Middle School/High School
Difficulty of Project
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project
At least a day.
To understand whether memory can be improved by doing physical activity
- A track or a treadmill
- Weights (or you can use two textbooks of equal weight)
- A list of items
Studies have shown that physical activity can help improve memory as one grows older. However, does physical activity also help one memorize a list of items for an exam or paper? Since different sorts of physical activities have different effects on the body, which type of physical activity most improves memory?
- Does physical activity help improve memory?
- What kinds of physical activity improve memory the most?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
- How does memory work?
- What kinds of physical activity are there, and how do they differ?
- How do tests of a similar nature that are performed on the elderly compare with this test, which will probably focus on younger individuals?
- Find a group of people who are willing to participate in this experiment.
- Divide this group into four groups of equal size. a. The first group will memorize the list while sitting. b. The second group will memorize the list while running, either around a track or on a treadmill. c. The third group will memorize the list while lifting weights. d. The fourth group will memorize the list while doing various different stretches (make sure you go over these stretches with the person first, or that a list of stretches is readily available).
- Create a list of items that is random enough that it would be difficult to memorize. A list of numbers would work as well.
- Give the participants the list, along with the instructions of how they are to memorize it. Give each participant the same amount of time to memorize the list while engaging in their physical activity.
- Test the participants on their knowledge of the list. a. You do not need a time limit, unless you desire one. b. See how many items the participant can remember. c. Did the participant memorize them in order?
Ruscheweyh, R; Willemer, C; Krüger, K; Duning, T; Warnecke, T; Sommer, J; Völker, K; Ho, HV; Mooren, F; Knecht, S; Flöel, A. Physical Activity and memory functions: an Interventional Study. PubMed.gov. Aug 27, 2009. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19716631
Thomas, Jerry R; Nelson, Jack K; Silverman, Stephen J. Research Methods in Physical Activity. Human Kinetics, Illinois: 2005.
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.