Study suggests this particular exercise can boost memory

Study suggests this particular exercise can boost memory

Ah, the burpee. Who hasn’t been forced against their will to perform far too many strenuous repetitions of this exercise? Touted as the ultimate full-body workout that requires no equipment, gym teachers and drill instructors everywhere swear by its effectiveness.

As grueling as it can be, your lousy gym instructor might be right: New research suggests that burpees not only improve endurance in teens — as you might expect — but they may be linked marked improvement in short-term memory. good.

For those unfamiliar, the infamous exercise popularized by the military involves lowering into a squat position, pulling the legs behind you into a plank position, performing a push-up, then jumping up – then repeating. , often to the point of nausea.

Published in the journal Environmental research and public health, the study involved 52 adolescent boys and girls aged 15 to 16, as existing studies show that this period of life is particularly sensitive for improving endurance. For four months, the researchers divided the teenagers into a control and experimental group. The former participated in a typical endurance program that did not involve burpees, while the latter followed the same program but with the all-too-dreaded exercise routine. In practice, the teens started out doing 60 seconds of burpees, with the duration increasing as the study progressed.

Researchers found that teens involved in the burpee program ran 8.6% faster in a 2000 meter run (about 1.25 miles). Meanwhile, the stuck teens in the control group were only 1.9% faster, which the data shows isn’t a statistically significant difference.

Even before we get to the cognitive effects, it might seem obvious that performing burpees would improve endurance, but it surprised even researchers how much more effective burpees were at making teens better runners than the program. plain-Jane endurance test of the control group. In fact, the researchers note that so far, there have been “no scientific studies showing burpee exercise as an effective component of physical activity for adolescents.”

Things get even more interesting when we look at short-term memory. According to the study, teens involved in the burpee program showed a whopping 26% improvement in the well-known and trusted Jacobs test, a short-term memory assessment that uses a range of numbers that participants must recall. in the same order as the figures were presented. in.

Lowering expectations a bit, the researchers admit that they “don’t know if the burpee exercise caused these positive effects on its own or if it was the interaction with the program.” In other words, it’s hard to tell if this is a case of direct memory improvement, or just teenagers becoming more motivated and engaged as a result of their participation in the study. . And, of course, the study says nothing about how burpees might affect fitness or cognition in other age groups.

Still, the results are significant enough for the researchers to postulate that “adding the burpee to an exercise program provides at least a preliminary practical approach to improving the effectiveness of physical education programs such as the one adopted “.

As a caveat, that doesn’t mean teens should be told to go all out for burpees, as researchers point out that striking the right balance is crucial. Too little exercise would not lead to significant improvement, while too much could exhaust them physically and psychologically, and possibly demotivate them from doing more burpees. Teenagers can be fickle.

According to the researchers, future studies should focus on the dosage of exercise needed for optimal improvement.

It’s only the beginning, but the results are intriguing, though far from definitive. It is possible that the improvement is due to the slight increase in exercise volume, rather than the exercise itself. Still, regular burpees won’t turn your average teenager into a savant with an eidetic memory, but as study and decades of widespread adoption have shown, it’ll probably still be good for them.

Learn more about fitness: Scientists find that lifting weights for just three seconds is very good for you

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