Exercising Before Learning Enhances Long-Term Memory for Foreign Language Vocabulary and Improves Mood
Keywords:physical exercise, memory, cognition, learning, phrasal verbs
It is well documented that exercise plays a critical role in maintaining physical health. More recently, a growing body of research has begun to focus on the mental benefits of exercise ranging from reducing depression to enhancing various cognitive abilities like memory and attention. These abilities are paramount for learning to occur, and thus, exercise has the potential to facilitate and enhance the learning experience. To further this line of research, a within-subject study was conducted that analyzed the effect a short bout of exercise before learning a set of English phrasal verbs (PVs) had on both short- and long-term memory retention. In addition, a Japanese version of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) questionnaire was used to measure the effect exercise had on mood. Using a pre- post and delayed posttest design, participants (N = 37) took part in two different learning conditions, a sedentary condition (sitting and reading) and exercise condition (treadmill walking) before learning a set of PVs. Using a paired samples t-test, results show that exercise does not improve short-term memory of PVs, but has a small-to-medium positive effect on long-term memory of PVs. Moreover, exercise had a strong positive effect on mood. In sum, this study supports the view that exercise enhances the encoding of new information into long-term memory and improves the wellbeing of the individual.
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