Study Reveals Just 10 Minutes of Exercise Can Increase Brain Function

Study Reveals Just 10 Minutes of Exercise Can Increase Brain Function


Article At-A-Glance:

  • For many Americans, the holiday season can be both joyful and stressful. When diet and
  • routines are disrupted, it can be mentally taxing.
  • A new study reveals that even a short burst of aerobic exercise can increase brain function and focus.
  • Although holiday travel limits our access to normal workouts, a quick 10 minutes of exercise can be had nearly anywhere.
  • There are many other options to help increase brain function, including foods and herbal supplements that boost cognitive performance.


With stores putting up decorations and all-too familiar Christmas songs on the radio, the holiday season has swiftly come upon us. But as magical as this time of year is, it can also bring with it a lot of stress. For students, finals are coming; for families, long road-trips and shopping lists loom on the horizon. With all that’s going on, it can be hard to maintain mental focus and get everything done that we need to do. Short of downing coffee and energy drinks, is there anything we can do to maintain our focus and mental energy?


According to a new study, there might be. A team of researchers at Canada's Western University revealed that just 10 minutes of exercise can increase brain function, creativity and mental dexterity. The study compared two groups: One of them was told to sit down and read a magazine for 10 minutes. Another group was asked to pedal an exercise bike at a moderate/intense rate for the same amount of time. Both groups were then connected to machines that measured their reaction time and the frontal lobe portion of their brain. The frontal lobe is responsible for controlling functions such as problem solving, judgement, and decision making.


The results of the study were fairly astounding. Matthew Heath, co-author of the study made the following statement in a news release: “Those who had exercised showed immediate improvement. Their responses were more accurate and their reaction times were up to 50 milliseconds shorter than their pre-exercise values. That may seem minuscule, but it represented a 14-per-cent gain in cognitive performance in some instances.”


In other words, after a short 10-minute aerobic exercise, participants performed better and received a jolt of mental energy and clarity. The implications of this study are that even a little bit of exercise can actually go a long way in preparing us for challenging mental tasks.


M. Heath continued with the following recommendation: “I always tell my students before they write a test or an exam or go into an interview — or do anything that is cognitively demanding – they should get some exercise first,” he adds. “Our study shows the brain’s networks like it. They perform better.”


One of the more interesting indications of the study is what it may mean for elderly people and individuals who cannot exercise for a great length of time. The cognitive benefits of aerobic exercise have long been understood; however, for health reasons not everyone can handle 20-30 minutes of intense aerobic exercise at once. Heath claims that even those with a limited capacity for exercise can gain immediate benefits and increase brain function from brisk walking or cycling.


What It Means For You

One of the good things about aerobic exercise is that you can do it just about anywhere. Even if you’re travelling, in hotels or at your parent’s house, there’s probably a way for your to get your heart rate up. From everything this study indicates, a short 10 minutes could make a difference in how you feel and especially how you think. It could be something to take the edge off of your stress this holiday.


More Ideas to Increase Brain Function

Beyond just exercise, there are plenty of other options out there that can help optimize your mental performance. You’re no doubt well aware that there are plenty of ‘energy’ products out there that are dangerous and bad for your overall health. However, those are thankfully not the only choices. One practical thing that you can do is add brain-boosting foods to your diet. 


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