Strength Training for Your Brain

October 7, 2014

If you’re having trouble remembering tricky choreography and repetition doesn’t seem to help, you may want to make time for a 
strength-training session. New research from Georgia Tech found that hitting the gym can help improve your memory. 


In the study, all participants were shown a series of 90 photographs before sitting in a leg extension resistance machine. One group did 50 reps, pushing themselves as hard as they could, while the other group simply sat and let the machine and a researcher move their legs for them. 


When the participants returned just two days later, the active exercisers were able to recognize 60 percent of the images, while the passive group only recalled 50 percent. While this isn’t the first study to show that exercise can be a memory aid, it is the first of its kind to show a 10 percent improvement after just one session of strength-training. That’s pretty phenomenal.


The team believes that other resistance exercises, such as squats, would have the same effect on memory. But why does it work? Other studies have found a link between acute stress and improved memory, and it’s possible that exercise releases certain hormones and chemicals that are tied to better recall. So if you have to step into a role a few days before curtain, fear not. Hit the studio and also the gym. You’ll feel stronger—body and mind.