E.K. Wilsie, C. Cuttler, E.M. LaFrance, C.P. Connolly

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Acute bouts of exercise have been shown to positively affect memory. Although the majority of previous research has focused on the effects of exercise on retrospective memory, recent findings suggest resistance exercise may enhance prospective memory. The impact of yoga on prospective memory has not been previously examined. PURPOSE: This study examined the effects of different forms of exercise on prospective memory (i.e., the ability to remember to execute tasks in the future) and retrospective memory (i.e., the ability to remember previously learned information). METHODS: 145 students were randomly assigned to one of four groups: 1) treadmill running (R) (n=37), 2) kettlebell resistance exercise (K) (n=32), 3) yoga (Y) (n=35), or 4) sitting (S) (control group) (n=41). After exercising or sitting, participants completed a one-hour battery of neuropsychological tests that included two prospective memory tests: 1) an episodic prospective memory test (the reminder test) and 2) a habitual prospective memory test (the difficulty ratings test). To assess retrospective memory participants completed 1) a verbal memory test (CVLT-II) and 2) a visuospatial memory test (BVMT-R). Participants in the R, K, and Y groups performed video-guided exercise at a moderate level of intensity (50-70% of HHR) for 20 minutes, with a 5-minute warmup and a 5-minute cooldown. Participants in the S group watched an exercise video while sitting for 30 minutes. RESULTS: There was no significant effect of exercise on the habitual prospective memory test [F(1,140)=.64,p=.59], but there was a significant effect of exercise on the episodic prospective memory test [c(3)=8.30, p=.04]. Follow-up tests indicate that aerobic exercise led to fewer episodic prospective memory failures (11%) than resistance exercise (41%), yoga (31%), or sitting (27%). No significant effects were detected on either retrospective memory test [CVLLT-II, F(3,141)=.71,p=.55; BVMT-R, F(3, 141)=.48,p=.70].CONCLUSION: Prospective memory is positively affected by exercise among college students. In contrast to previous findings, aerobic exercise specifically (but not resistance) appears to enhance prospective memory. This discrepancy may be due to differences in the time at which the prospective memory instructions were administered in the two studies.

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