It got a tiny mention in the Daily Telegraph a couple of weeks ago, but I thought it was a very interesting piece of information for all the students who are joining us on the runs organized by Oxford Brookes as part of the Brookes Active initiative. Going for a run could help students who are cramming for exams boost their memory, according to a study conducted by the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria and published in the journal Cognitive Systems Research.
The timing is important. If you first study hard, and then go out for a run, as a bit of a break from the work, or to get some fresh air, it seems that the running will help retain what you have just learned.
The way it works, according to science journal Elsevier, is that the physical stress of running switches the brain into memory storage mode where it retains information the student wants to remember. The additional cortisol the body produces during running probably helps to improve memory and retain data, even more so than for example playing a computer game, or watching television, or even going out for a walk.
In fact those students who in the context of the study played a computer game called Counter Strike after studying for their exam fared the worst in terms of retaining newly learned academic material. The students who spent time outdoors without actually going for a run were the runners-up in terms of remembering information.
So, it makes sense in the forthcoming exam week, to take advantage of the groups runs on offer and recharge your batteries by heading out for an all-abilities, all-weather session. Not ony will it be fun, it will also consolidate all your previous studying!
P.S. The study invlolved testing 60 men aged between 16 and 29!