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May 02, 2014 12:23 PM EDT

Aerobic Fitness May Improve Memory

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People who are sedentary may have hard time retaining information, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Michigan State University found that people who are less fit had discrepancies in their long-term memory.

Long-term memory is anything remembered more than about 30 seconds ago.

 "The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time," Kimberly Fenn, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, said in a statement.

For the study, researchers collected data from 75 college students during a two-day period.

During the experiment, participants studied related word pairs such as "camp" and "trail." The next day, they were tested on the word pairs to evaluate long-term memory retention.

The participants' aerobic fitness was gauged by oxygen consumption derived from a treadmill test and factored with the participants' weight, percent body fat, age and sex.

They found that a surprising number of the college students in the study were significantly out of shape and did much worse at retaining information than those who were extremely fit, Fenn said.

Researchers said the findings speak to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles found in the United States and other Western cultures.

The study, which appears online in the research journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, is one of the first to investigate young, supposedly healthy adults. Previous research on fitness and memory has focused largely on children, whose brains are still developing, and the elderly, whose memories are declining.

Sedentary lifestyles have also been linked to many chronic ailments, including obesity, colon cancer and heart failure. Other studies have shown that too much sitting or lack of regular physical activity could also double the risk of physical disability

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