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Short-Term Exercise Increases Brain Power

Short-Term Exercise Increases Brain Power
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By    |   Tuesday, 26 December 2017 12:50 AM

A short, 10-minute burst of exercise can increase brain power by improving focusing and problem-solving skills, says a new study from the University of Western Ohio.

While earlier studies found brain benefits after 20 minutes of exercise, or after a 24-week workout program, researchers found that only 10 minutes of aerobic activity can boost areas of the brain associated with focusing and solving problems.

"Some people can't commit to a long-term exercise regime because of time or physical capacity," said Kinesiology Prof. Matthew Heath. "This shows that people can cycle or walk briskly for a short duration, even once, and find immediate benefits."

For the study, research participants either sat and read a magazine or did 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise on a stationary bicycle. Following the reading and exercise session, the researchers used equipment that tracked eye movement to gauge participants' reaction times to a cognitively demanding task involving eye movement.

The task was designed to challenge areas of the brain responsible for executive function such as making decisions and inhibition.

"Those who had exercised showed immediate improvement," said Heath. "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 percent gain in cognitive performance in some instances," he said.

Heath is now conducting a study to determine how long the benefits may last following exercise. His work has significance for older people in early stages of dementia who may be less mobile, he said, and for anyone else looking to gain quick a mental edge in their work.

"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," Heath said. "Our study shows the brain's networks like it. They perform better."

Other recent studies have also found links between exercise and memory. Researchers at Northwestern University found that exercise improved the memory of breast cancer survivors who often complain of memory problems.

Even gentle exercise can improve memory, according to a study from the University of Waterloo which found that a session of yoga or meditation can boost your brain function and your energy levels. Study participants completed 25 minutes of Hatha yoga (one of the most common forms of yoga practiced in the U.S.), 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation, and 25 minutes of quiet reading (a control task) in randomized order.

Participants performed significantly better on executive function tasks, which include working memory, cognitive control, and cognitive flexibility, following both yoga and meditation activities compared to the reading task.

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A short, 10-minute burst of exercise can increase brain power by improving focusing and problem-solving skills, says a new study from the University of Western Ohio.While earlier studies found brain benefits after 20 minutes of exercise, or after a 24-week workout program,...
short-term, exercise, brain, memory, boost
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2017-50-26
Tuesday, 26 December 2017 12:50 AM
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