Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Lift Weights


There's a lot more to weightlifting than getting ripped.

A new study from Georgia Tech researchers to be published in the November issue of the journal Acta Psychologica has found that, aside from the basic physical benefits of lifting weights, pumping iron for just 20 minutes a day can seriously boost your memory. That's right: 20 minutes reps of bi and tri curls each day may help you remember everything else going on in your life.

The researchers examined 46 young adults with an average age of 20, 23 "active" ones who exercised regularly and 23 "passive" ones who were relatively lazy. Though the researchers used a particular set of criteria to exclude participants (such as obesity, hearing difficulty and left-handedness), the results still strongly suggested that "a single bout of resistance exercise performed during consolidation can produce episodic memory benefits 48 hours later."

As with any scientific study, there are a few caveats. Though the team's study resulted in an increase in episodic memory, particularly memory for emotional materials, from study participants who completed "acute aerobic exercise," there are still questions about the exact cause of the correlation. 

Such physiological benefits could be attributed to exercise in general, but the study's authors chose to focus solely on aerobic exercise in the form of weightlifting and did notice particular neurological improvements that hadn't before been associated with other exercises. And from that it was clear even a short, 20 minute session of weightlifting can make a real different.  

"Our results demonstrate that a single bout of resistance exercise performed during consolidation can enhance episodic memory and that the effect of valence on memory depends on the physiological response to the exercise," the authors wrote in the study's abstract

While the general benefits of exercise, in almost any amount or form, have been widely touted, the idea that hitting the weights for less than half an hour a day could actually have positive neurological effects is fairly unexpected, but that doesn't mean it's not welcome news. Besides, it's just another reason to push you to actually use that weight set that's been collecting dust in your basement.

Of course, aside from all those amazing memory benefits, with enough 20-minute sessions, you could look like this guy one day (well, maybe a bit more than 20 minutes):