We all know that exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy (Thanks Elle Woods). A new study suggests that a brief jog or brisk walk is even better than meditation for your brain’s health.
If you’re looking to boost attention control and mental functioning, evidence by one-hundred-and-one undergrad students is showing immediate benefits from raising your heart rate. The students were put into one of two experimental conditions: 15 minutes of jogging at “moderate” intensity or 15 minutes of relaxation. They studied the effects of these excesses on perceptual speed, attention control, memory, and cognitive flexibility by The Trail Making Test(The test consists of two parts in which the subject is instructed to connect a set of 25 dots as quickly as possible while still maintaining accuracy).
By taking the TMT before and after the two exercises, the students who went for a jog displayed significant improvements on their mental speed and attention control. They also stated they felt increased energy which implies that the job boosted cognition. The relaxation students felt dramatically less energetic despite having done a less moderate workout.
In the new paper in Acta Psychologica, Fabian Legrand and his colleagues took this information and connected it to the emotional effects of exercise. “Taken together, our data suggest that a brief bout of moderate intensity exercise can improve the efficiency of certain cognitive processes through increases in feelings of energy.”
So what does this all mean? It means you can put down the chai tea latte, exchange your yoga mat for sneakers, and break a sweat! A mere 15 minutes of this and your body (and mind) will thank you!
1. Acute exercise is thought to facilitate cognitive processes by replenishing energy levels.
2. Significantly differences were found for cognitive processing speed.
3. Various cognitive performances were measured before and following 15 min of exercise vs. relaxation/concentration.
4. Pre- to post-intervention changes in feelings of energy were also assessed in each group.
5. These differences were fully mediated by changes in feelings of energy.
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