Researchers have conducted a study, of 72 healthy volunteers. The subjects were asked to spend 40 minutes learning the location of 90 objects on a screen. The researchers immediately tested how well each participant did learning the objects’ locations and then split them into three groups.
Group one did a 35-minute interval training on a stationary bike at an intensity of up to 80% of their maximum heart rate. Group two went into a quiet room and watched nature documentaries until it was time for their four-hour delayed workout. Group three acted as the control group. They watched nature documentaries but didn’t work out.
The research, published in Current Biology, found Group Two, the group that exercised after a four-hour delay, had 9% better recall than the other two groups who performed equally.
The implications of this are quite broad, assuming the study is repeatable and the findings can be applied to different demographics.
For example, schools might find that scheduling sporting activities and physical education classes in the morning, rather than later in the day as is typical, delivers better learning outcomes.
The researchers say there is more work to be done to determine if their four-hour delay was critical or whether longer or shorter delays deliver different outcomes.