Students who did a brisk 10-minute walk before studying for a memory recall test did 25 percent better on the test than those who were sedentary before studying.
Imagine yourself at an important work-related meeting. You don’t know a soul. But that’s okay: everyone introduces themselves at the start of the meeting. Midway through, you all take a break. A woman—a highly influential one—who was sitting across the table from you strikes up a conversation, addressing you by name. But her name is completely lost to you—even though you were introduced.
It happens to many people. And it’s embarrassing, as well as potentially career-limiting. This kind of memory frustration may have been the motivation behind a study conducted by several researchers from the Universities of Illinois in Chicago and California State in Long Beach. (Or maybe they just wanted to find a way to improve their exam results.)
Study: Recall test
For their study, they recruited university students who were asked to study a list of 30 nouns. Before they studied, they were either instructed to take a brisk 10-minute walk or to sit for 10 minutes watching an unrelated slide show.
After studying each of the 30 nouns they were asked to rate how well they might recall the word on a future memory test. They were then asked to repeat either their brisk 10-minute walk or their sedentary slide show before completing a recall test to determine how many they actually did remember.
Results: Walking helped recall
The study participants who took the brisk walk before they studied the nouns were 25 percent better at recalling the words than those who sat watching the slide show. What was really interesting was that when participants walked just before writing the test it had no additional effect on their test performance.
What does this mean for your next meeting? You might just want to do some brisk laps around the meeting table before you begin your session.
Walking is the full-meal deal
There are so many good reasons to walk, it’s difficult to know where to start. Check out these other great articles for more good reasons to put on your walking shoes: