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Running for exam preparation

It’s that time of year when many are either in the midst of exam preparation or are gearing up for some serious study sessions. Despite what sit-com writers might imply about the power of subliminally heard sleep recordings, everyone knows what it takes to study, and there’s just no substitute for time spent going over notes and textbooks. The problem comes in deciding what to do after study in order to consolidate your learning. While it may be tempting to collapse in front of an undemanding stream-screen or perhaps log on to a favoured game, a new study has shown that the best thing you could do would be to go for a run.

For the new study men aged 16 to 29 were asked to memorise a diverse range of information from learning a route on a map to rote learning German-Turkish word pairs. The subjects were then divided into three groups; one group went for a run, another group played a violent computer game called Computer Strike, and a third group spent time outside. The researchers then compared how well each group remembered the information on subsequent testing.

The runners showed as doing best (even doing better than they did before going for a run), then the group who did nothing, and the group who played the computer game did significantly worse after playing the game.

The researchers aren’t exactly sure what is happening here. It might be that the psychological stress of gameplay makes the brain focus on the perceived threats as opposed to what was trying to be remembered. On the other hand, it might be that the physical stress of running pushes the brain into memory storage mode so it will retain the information just put in.

Whatever the mechanism, it seems if you want remember what you have been studying then exercise is best…in the long run.

Source: Cognitive Systems Research

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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