Studies have shown over and over the effects of physical exercise on human brain, how it boosts memory capacity and prevents cognitive decline. However, much has not been written on the effects of posture- sitting, standing, and walking on the brain.
This informed the decision of three researchers from Ludwig‐Maximilians‐University Munich in Germany — Gordon Dodwell, Hermann J. Müller, and Thomas Töllner, to investigate into the impact of posture and movement on human memory.
Their findings, published in the British Journal of Psychology, validated previous findings that aerobic exercise protects the brain, and much more that sitting, standing, and walking each impact visual working memory, which is the brain’s ability to store visual information spontaneously, for use in a current task.
Another study published in Frontiers in public health on the effect of movement on cognitive performance also affirmed that movement can significantly improve memory performance in students.
The study titled: “The Effect of Movement on Cognitive Performance”, examined the relationship between walking, cognitive, and academic skills. The researchers required students from elementary, middle, high school, and college students to walk for 10 min prior to completing feature detection, Simon-type memory, and mathematical problem-solving tasks.
They found that ten minutes of walking had a significant positive effect on Simon-type memory and critical feature-detection tasks among all age groups. Separately, with mathematical problem-solving ability, higher performing high-school students demonstrated significant positive effects on mathematical reasoning tasks based on the Bloom Taxonomy.
The findings also revealed that poorly achieving high-school students performed significantly better than those with higher grades in mathematics on tests of mathematical problem-solving ability based on the Bloom’s Taxonomy.
According to the three Germane researchers “Acute aerobic exercise has been found to influence cognitive performance both subsequently and concurrently [during and after exercise].
“However, the influence on executive performance during acute exercise is less clear, with several accounts providing contradictory theory and evidence regarding the direction of effects,” the authors added
Using an electroencephalography (EEG) — a technique that allows researchers to monitor a person’s brain activity by recording electrical impulses — to see how people would perform on visual memory tasks while in a passive posture, or while physically active; the researchers selected 24 participants to be tested with this device.
The participants were made to undergo testing as they performed the memory task in different conditions: while seated on a stationary bicycle, while pedaling, while standing on a treadmill, and as they were walking on a treadmill.
According to the findings reported on Medical News Today, Lead author Thomas Töllner and colleagues found that the participants’ visual working memory seemed to work best when they were cycling or walking, rather than seated or simply standing.
Moreover, when it came to posture, the researchers observed that standing helped minimize mistakes as the participants performed their task.
The researchers stated : “Our behavioral results indicated that both acute aerobic exercise and upright posture expedited the overall speed of processing as compared to passive and seated conditions, while upright posture additionally served to reduce error rates”.