The effects of different aerobic exercise intensities on short-term and long-term memory retention following a video-based learning task: A pilot study
Research evidence regarding the effects of simultaneous exercise and learning on short- and long-term memory retention is equivocal, particularly as a function of different exercise intensities. The purpose of this pilot investigation was to compare the effects of different exercise intensities performed during a video-based learning task on short- and long-term memory retention. Seventy-two college students were randomly assigned to one of four groups: control (no exercise), and cycle exercise at light (40% HRmax), moderate (60% HRmax) and high (80% HRmax) intensity. Exercise groups watched 20 min of instructional videos on simple medical procedures while performing the cycle exercise, and the control group viewed the videos while seated at a desk. Participants completed a recall exam, immediately after viewing the videos (while cycling or sitting, as assigned) and the total correct responses (CR) were recorded to measure short-term retention. Participants then completed the same exam one week later to assess long-term retention. There was no significant difference observed for retention (p = 0.803) between groups across both testing sessions (control: 14.9 ± 2.3 CR; low: 15.6 ± 1.6 CR; moderate: 15.0 ± 2.6 CR; high: 15.0 ± 2.6 CR). While the exercise conditions in this pilot study did not improve short- and long-term memory retention of a video-based learning task, they also did not have a negative impact on retention. Suggestions for future study include increasing sample size, utilizing a crossover study design, addressing recall exam validity, and addressing variations in exercise intensity and duration, and participant attentiveness.