Effect of aerobic exercise intensity on memory retention in female collegiate students

October 14, 2015 / By: Noh, J., Duoos, B

Extensive research on humans has shown that exercise is beneficial to overall physical and mental health. Aerobic exercise has been proven to cause functional and structural adaptations in the human brain including increased brain activation, blood flow, connectivity, brain volume in the hippocampus, frontal and parietal cortices, and have positive effects on cognition and brain functioning. However, research is inconclusive about the effects of aerobic exercise intensity on an individual’s memory retention.

PURPOSE:  To compare the difference between low intensity (LI) and high intensity (HI) aerobic exercise (AE) on memory retention between lightly active (LA) and highly active (HA) female college students (FCS).

METHODS:  Twenty-two females (age: 21.409 ± 1.182 yr.; ht.: 164.88 cm ± 7.52 cm; wt.: 58.47 kg ± 6.88 kg) completed the Rey Auditory Verbal Recall Test (RAVRC) at rest (control), and after completing LI and HI AE on the treadmill.  The RAVRT results from control (C) and LI and HI were compared between LA and HA FCS using two sample t-tests (p<0.05).

RESULTS: LA-C versus LA-LI (9.83 ± 1.59 pts. vs. 11.58 ± 1.56 pts., p=0.013), and LA-C versus LA-HI (9.83 ± 1.59 pts. vs. 12.58 ± 2.02 pts., p=0.001) were significant. HA-LI versus HA-HI (11.80 ± 2.74 pts. vs. 11.60 ± 2.74 pts., p=0.874), LA-LI versus LA-HI (11.58 ± 1.56 pts. vs. 12.58 ± 2.02 pts., p=0.190), HA-LI versus LA-LI (11.80 ± 2.74 pts. vs. 11.58 ± 1.56 pts., p=0.828), HA-HI versus LA-HI (11.60 ± 2.74 pts. vs. 12.58 ± 2.02 pts., p=0.373) were insignificant.

CONCLUSION: Memory retention was positively influenced by low and high aerobic intensity exercise, suggesting that those who exercise less would benefit from a more active lifestyle to improve memory retention.