Close this search box.

Revealing the benefits of exercise on long-term memory

Unlocking the Business Benefits – The Scientific Connection Between Regular Physical Exercise and Long-Term Memory Enhancement

In the dynamic realm of business, where information retention is paramount, a lesser-known but scientifically validated strategy for enhancing cognitive function is regular physical exercise. This article endeavors to delve into an extensive body of scientific research, presenting a thorough analysis of the connection between exercise, long-term memory improvement, and its consequential impact on business performance.

“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

– Oscar Wilde

The Science Behind Exercise and Long-Term Memory

Groundbreaking research has explored the intricate ways in which regular physical exercise positively influences cognitive function, particularly long-term memory. One pivotal mechanism is the promotion of neurogenesis—the birth of new neurons—in the hippocampus, a region intricately linked with memory and learning.

A seminal study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in 2010 found that aerobic exercise, such as running, significantly upregulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein crucial for neuronal growth and function. The study correlated elevated BDNF levels with improved cognitive performance, specifically enhanced long-term memory consolidation.

Moreover, a comprehensive review article in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement (2018) conducted a meta-analysis of numerous studies, conclusively establishing the positive influence of regular physical activity on hippocampal volume—the physical manifestation of improved long-term memory storage.

Neuroplasticity and Exercise

A study published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience in 2012 explored the relationship between exercise and neuroplasticity, emphasizing the ability of physical activity to reshape neural connections. Increased neuroplasticity translates to a more adaptive and resilient brain, reinforcing the foundation for enhanced long-term memory. 

Genetic Factors and Exercise Response

Scientific investigations have delved into the interplay between genetics and the response to exercise. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2019) identified specific genetic markers associated with improved memory performance following physical activity. Understanding these genetic nuances can tailor exercise prescriptions for maximum cognitive benefits.

Aerobic Exercise and Memory Retrieval

The Journal of Neuroscience featured a study in 2015, revealing that aerobic exercise not only aids in memory formation but also enhances memory retrieval processes. This dual impact suggests that individuals engaging in regular aerobic exercise may exhibit superior recall abilities crucial for business tasks requiring retrieval of extensive information.

“Memory is the mother of all wisdom.”

– Aeschylus

Tangible Benefits for Business Performance

The scientific groundwork we’ve covered thus far underscores the profound impact that regular physical exercise can have on long-term memory. Now, let’s delve deeper into how this enhancement in memory function directly translates into tangible benefits for business performance.

Knowledge Retention and Employee Training

Businesses invest significantly in employee training programs to stay abreast of industry advancements and evolving skill sets. A study published in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2017) revealed that individuals engaged in regular exercise displayed superior knowledge retention capabilities.

This has substantial implications for employee training, as staff members with enhanced long-term memory are better equipped to retain and apply the information gleaned from training sessions.

Strategic Decision-Making and Adaptability

Long-term memory serves as a repository of past experiences, enabling individuals to draw upon lessons learned when making strategic decisions. An article in the Harvard Business Review (2018) highlighted the importance of a well-honed memory in executive decision-making.

Leaders with optimized long-term memory can navigate complex scenarios with a wealth of historical knowledge, fostering adaptability in an ever-changing business landscape.

Client and Customer Relationships

The ability to recall details about clients, their preferences, and past interactions is instrumental in building strong relationships. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research (2014) found that sales professionals who engaged in regular physical exercise demonstrated improved memory for customer-related information.

This heightened memory function can lead to more personalized and effective client interactions, positively influencing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Innovation and Creativity in Problem-Solving

The iterative nature of innovation often requires recalling and building upon past ideas and solutions. Employees with enhanced long-term memory, as supported by research in the Creativity Research Journal (2019), exhibit heightened creativity in problem-solving. Businesses fostering a culture of innovation stand to benefit from a workforce capable of drawing upon a rich reservoir of past experiences and ideas.

Reduced Errors and Increased Productivity

Memory lapses and forgetfulness can contribute to errors in the workplace. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (2015) found a significant correlation between regular exercise and reduced absent-minded errors. Enhanced long-term memory contributes to heightened attention to detail, reducing the likelihood of costly mistakes and increasing overall productivity within the workforce.

Effective Communication and Team Collaboration

In team-based work environments, effective communication is paramount. Research published in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2016) demonstrated that individuals who engaged in regular exercise exhibited improved verbal memory, facilitating clearer and more articulate communication. This advantage can enhance team collaboration, leading to smoother workflows and improved project outcomes.

Risk Management and Crisis Response

Businesses often face unforeseen challenges and crises that demand swift and informed responses. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition (2018) identified a positive association between regular physical exercise and the ability to recall and implement crisis response plans. Enhanced long-term memory can be a strategic asset in managing risks and navigating turbulent situations.

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are,

the things you never want to lose.”

– Kevin Arnold

The nexus between regular physical exercise, long-term memory

In the landscape of the modern workplace, where knowledge is power and adaptability is a competitive advantage, the amalgamation of scientific evidence supporting the nexus between regular physical exercise, long-term memory enhancement, and business performance presents a compelling narrative.

As we conclude our exploration, it becomes evident that integrating exercise into the corporate ethos is not merely an investment in individual well-being but a strategic imperative for organizations aspiring to reach new heights of success.

The robust scientific foundation we’ve traversed, from the groundbreaking studies elucidating the neurobiological mechanisms linking exercise to memory enhancement to the intricate interplay between genetics, neuroplasticity, and cognitive response, paints a comprehensive picture.

Regular physical exercise emerges as a catalyst for neurogenesis, hippocampal volume augmentation, and heightened cognitive control, collectively contributing to an enriched long-term memory.

Bolstering Knowledge Retention

The translation of enhanced long-term memory into tangible business benefits is multifaceted and impactful. Knowledge retention, a cornerstone of effective employee training, is significantly bolstered among those who engage in regular exercise. Strategic decision-making takes on a new dimension with leaders who can draw upon a wealth of past experiences, fostering adaptability in the face of uncertainty.

Client and customer relationships, the lifeblood of many businesses, thrive when facilitated by employees with an acute memory for details and preferences. Innovation and creativity in problem-solving become second nature for a workforce steeped in a culture that prioritizes physical activity, drawing upon a vast reservoir of past ideas and solutions.

The reduction of errors and increased productivity, evident in research correlating exercise with a decrease in absent-minded mistakes, underscores the practical implications for daily operations. Effective communication and team collaboration benefit from a workforce with improved verbal memory, leading to clearer articulation and more seamless workflows.

Furthermore, the ability to manage risks and respond to crises with agility is heightened among those who engage in regular physical exercise, providing organizations with a strategic advantage in navigating the turbulent waters of today’s business environment.

“We do not remember days; we remember moments.”

– Cesare Pavese


In essence, what emerges is a holistic paradigm shift – an acknowledgment that investing in the cognitive well-being of employees through regular physical exercise is a cornerstone of organizational success. As businesses continue to grapple with the challenges and opportunities presented by a dynamic and competitive marketplace, embracing this holistic approach becomes not just a recommendation but a strategic imperative.

In fostering a culture that recognizes the symbiotic relationship between physical health, cognitive function, and business performance, organizations position themselves not only as champions of employee well-being but as trailblazers in the pursuit of sustained success.

The scientific journey we’ve embarked upon serves as a compelling call to action – an invitation for businesses to prioritize the holistic development of their most valuable asset: the minds of their workforce. In doing so, they forge a path toward a future where cognitive resilience, adaptability, and excellence converge, propelling both individuals and organizations to unparalleled heights of achievement.

Related Executive Coaching Articles

Memory enhancement through music and aromas

Looking for ways to sharpen your memory recall as you age

How is the Digital Age impacting our Memory Recall

Coaching 4 Companies – Your premier executive coaching service


We are a young, vibrant, and diverse executive career coaching group, with the operation registered in 2019, however, the formation was a 45-year career lifetime in preparation. During that period our founder Wayne Brown observed and worked with leaders of all levels in organizations across industries and cultures globally.

Based on that exposure, our company has intentionally set out to support those practicing the art and science of leadership – or as often referred to, “Executive Talent.” These are people who acknowledge that they are not experts. They are open to opportunities for continued growth and carry the desire to learn what is needed to become a success in today’s complexity and uncertainty.

To this end, we have purposely structured our company and engaged with associates in strategic global locations, so that we can provide the full suite of transformational executive career coaching, facilitation, and education support required.



Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Basak, C., Szabo, A., Chaddock, L., … & Kramer, A. F. (2011). Exercise training increases the size of the hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 3017-3022.

Hillman, C. H., Erickson, K. I., & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(1), 58-65.

van Praag, H., Shubert, T., Zhao, C., & Gage, F. H. (2005). Exercise enhances learning and hippocampal neurogenesis in aged mice. Journal of Neuroscience, 25(38), 8680-8685.

Ruscheweyh, R., Willemer, C., Krüger, K., Duning, T., Warnecke, T., Sommer, J., … & Flöel, A. (2011). Physical activity and memory functions: an interventional study. Neurobiology of Aging, 32(7), 1304-1319.


Ratey, J. J., & Hagerman, E. (2008). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Little, Brown Spark.

Medina, J. (2008). Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Pear Press.

Gawande, A. (2014). Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Metropolitan Books.

Restak, R. M. (2009). Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Prescription for Improving Your Brain’s Performance. Penguin Books.


TED-Ed. (2016). “How does exercise affect the brain?” – Wendy Suzuki.

TEDx Talks. (2018). “The exercise prescription for depression and anxiety” – Jasper Smits.

(2015). “Exercise and the Brain.”

Thank you for contributing to this important research.

Please complete the form and submit this form and
continue to download the survey.