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Health Promot Perspect. 2019 May 25;9(2):99-104. doi: 10.15171/hpp.2019.14. eCollection 2019.

The effects of acute exercise on episodic memory function among young university students: moderation considerations by biological sex.

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Exercise & Memory Laboratory, Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677, USA.


Background: The objective of this study was to evaluate potential sex-specific differences on episodic memory function and determine whether sex moderates the effects of acute exercise on episodic memory. Methods: A randomized controlled intervention was employed. This experiment was conducted among young University students (mean age = 21 years). Both males (n=20) and females (n=20)completed two counterbalanced laboratory visits, with one visit involving a 15-minute bout of moderate-intensity exercise prior to the memory task. The control visit engaged in a time matched seated task. Memory function (including short-term memory, learning, and long-term memory) was assessed from the RAVLT (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test). Results: We observed a significant main effect for time (P<0.001, ƞ2 p= 0.77) and a marginally significant main effect for sex (P=0.06, ƞ2 p= 0.09), but no time by sex by condition interaction(P=0.91, ƞ2 p= 0.01). We also observed some suggestive evidence of a more beneficial effect of acute exercise on memory for females. Conclusion: In conclusion, females outperformed males in verbal memory function. Additional research is needed to further evaluate whether sex moderates the effects of acute exercise on memory function.


Cognition; Encoding; Learning; Memory; Physical activity

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