Are you interested in learning how to shoot a perfect 3-pointer? How about kicking an impeccable field goal? Or, even, how to rewire a car? A recent study conducted at the University of Copenhagen suggests that performing aerobic exercise after practicing physical or technical activities can actually help you learn and retain those abilities.
For example, as part of the study, a group of healthy, young men were faced with the challenge of mastering a complicated tracing activity, thus, creating a short-term “muscle memory” or “motor memory.” A portion of the group performed a rigorous 15-minute bicycle ride before mastering the activity and the remaining portion performed an identical intensity bike ride after. All of the subjects were then tested on the tracing again after an hour, a day, and a week of initially performing it.
The results of the study showed that the group of men who rode their bikes after mastering the tracing challenge had a far better ability to repeat the task as opposed to their counterparts who rode their bikes before the challenge. The implications of the study suggest that aerobic exercise such as running or bike riding performed after mastering a new skill can actually strengthen your ability to register that skill into your long-term memory bank. The effects of such activity on non-muscle memories such as learning algebra have yet to be seen, however, it is currently being researched and the results look promising.
So, the next time you learn a new trick and want to ensure you don’t forget it, take a lap around the block and you’ll be a pro in no time.