Moving to remember

How motion improves memory 

It’s well documented that exercise is good for our brain as well as our body. Regular physical activity sees benefits to our motor skills, along with our executive function – and memory. Not only that, but specific movements can be used to have different desired effects. We incorporate movement as a key component to coaching, using our BENDS (Brief Emotional Non-verbal Displays) which can be learnt on our ILM Level 3 Award course. 

If not now… when?  

Neuroscience research by Fernandez (2016) documented how the timing of the exercise you do can improve long term memory. The chemical compounds produced during in the body – which include dopamine and norepinephrine – are thought to help improve memory.  

The 72 people participating in the study completed a 40 minute learning task. They were divided into three groups: one exercised immediately; one exercised four hours later; the third did no exercise. Two days later the group were tested on how much they had remembered.   

The results showed clearly that the group who delayed exercise by four hours had performed best – and this showed on the MRI scans that were taken. Activity patterns were sharper within the hippocampus, which is connected to learning and memory. 

But why? 

Research so far has not been clear about the link between physical exercise and the improvement in memory. 

A new study (Roig et al, July 2018) focussing on exercise and motor learning, appears to shed some light on what is happening within our brains. Roig and his colleagues work with rehabilitation patients, including those who’ve experienced stroke. They combine exercise with motor learning to “…improve the retention of motor skills…” 

Streamline your body; streamline your brain 

It appears to show that as well as (eventually) streamlining your body, exercise also streamlines your brain:  

“What exercise seems to be doing is to reduce the demands of the brain, so memories can be consolidated more efficiently because there is much better connectivity of the different parts of the brain.” Roig 

And… rest. 

The researchers also discovered that sleep plays an important part too. During their study, participants were asked to play a video game that required muscular movements. Afterwards, one group exercised vigourously, the other group didn’t. Then the groups were asked to return after 8, and 24 hours, to play the video game again, to measure their memory. 

After 8 hours, there didn’t appear to be a difference in the memory of either group. However, after 24 hours – and some sleep – the group who exercised show considerably better memory recall than the group who did no exercise. 

Specific movements to work your brain 

As NeuChem coaches, we encourage our clients to exercise and move their bodies – it’s key to our model. Using specific movements called BENDs, clients can unlock their brains and shift thinking.  You can watch some of our coaches practicing these empowering moves here

It’s well known that memory is linked to decision making. Our coaching practice is underpinned by our ability to coach our clients to enable them to make decisions about themselves and their lives. Equipping them with the tools to improve their memory, and in so doing, their decision-making skills, is what we do. Neuroscientific research which confirms this gives credibility to our practice, and confidence to our coaching clients. 


It’s clear, taking even a small amount of time to get the blood moving really does work wonders on our brains!

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