The Effect of Exercise (Swimming and Running) on Motor Function, learning and Spatial Memory in Elder Male Wistar Rats

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant professor of International Imam Khomini University


In recent years, the effects of exercise on nervous system, spatial memory and
motor function in the senescence period have received the attention of researchers.
As the age increases, some functions of nervous system such as spatial memory are
weakened. Thus, the effect of aerobic exercises including swimming and running
on learning, spatial memory and motor function was investigated in old rats. The
study was experimental. 30 rats (18 months old) were randomly divided into
three groups: experimental 1 (running on a treadmill), experimental 2 (swimming
in the water maze) and control. Rat treadmill was used for subjects' exercise,
Morris water maze device was used to apply exercise protocol and to examine their
memory and learning and open field device was used to examine subjects' motor
function. One-way analysis of variance was used to analyze the data. The results
were reported as mean + SD and suggested that in spatial memory test (time to
reach the target and the covered distance to reach the target), Experimental 1
group (swimming) significantly outperformed control and experimental 2 (running)
groups (P=0.001). Treadmill group had a better performance in spatial memory
test (time to reach the target) than control group (P=0.04). In motor function test
(open field test), experimental 1 and 2 groups were significantly superior to the
control group in the total distance covered (P=0.001, P=0.002 respectively). In the
mean speed covered in the open field test, Experimental 1 and 2 groups were
significantly superior to the control group (P=0.001, P=0.003 respectively). The
results showed that aerobic exercise especially swimming had a positive effect on
memory consolidation, retention and motor function, that is, exercise probably
improves reward paths in the nervous system of the rats and this factor can be a
reason for memory consolidation and learning in the nervous system.