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Weight-Lifting can Boost Memory, Study Reports

Update Date: Oct 02, 2014 10:05 AM EDT

Researchers are giving people another reason to go to the gym and start lifting weights. According to a new study conducted at the Georgia Institute of Technology, an intense workout, such as weight lifting, can boost memory.

For this study, the researchers recruited two groups of 23 participants. The first group consisted of active people, 12 of whom were females. The mean age was 20.61. The other group was made up of passive people. 17 of them were females and the mean age was 20.21.

The study started off with a series of 90 photos that were displayed on a computer screen. The participants were not instructed to try to memorize the photos. They were then placed onto a leg extension resistance exercise machine. The active group had to move their legs at maximum effort 50 times. The other group also sat in the chair, but the machine and an experimenter helped with the leg contractions. The team measured blood pressure and heart rate. They also collected saliva samples.

48 hours later, the participants came back to the lab and saw a series of 180 pictures, half of which were the same as the other 90 pictures presented previously. The researchers tested the participants' ability to recall and found that the success rates for the active and control group were 60 percent and 50 percent, respectively. The team concluded that just 20 minutes of exercising with weights was enough to improve the participants' episodic memory, which is also known as long-term memory.

"Our study indicates that people don't have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost," said lead investigator of the study, Lisa Weinberg, the Georgia Tech graduate student according to the University's press release.

The researchers hope to replicate this study in older adults. They also plan on studying the link between an intense workout and other types of memory.

The study, "A single bout of resistance exercise can enhance episodic memory performance," was published in the journal, Acta Psychologia.

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