The study conducted by a team of experts from the Donders Institute in the Netherlands' Radboud University Medical Center found that those who exercise four hours after finishing a learning task had better memory recall 48 hours later.
The researchers said that working out immediately after studying or learning seemed to have no
impact on memory retention.
For the study, the researchers tasked 72 participants to complete a 40-minute task where they were required to view 90 images and learn the associated locations. The images had common objects in one of six locations on a computer screen.
The participants were then grouped into three: one group worked out immediately after the task, the second group exercised four hours after the task, and the third group was not involved in any physical activity at all.
The first and second group completed 35 minutes of interval training with the help of an ergometer. After two days, participants were asked to take a memory recall test, which evaluated how much information they remembered from the learning activity.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was also used by researchers to measure the brain activity during memory recall. The researchers then compared the result with the group that exercised immediately after studying, those who worked out after four hours had better memory recall after 48 hours. The study showed that the participants who did not work out after the task had the second-best performance.
Professor Guillen Fernandez, co-author of the study, says it is not known why people who immediately exercise failed to perform better than those who were inactive.