Just 10 Minutes Of Exercise Can Boost Your Brain Power In Big Ways

Unsplash/Ben O'Sullivan

Struggling to solve an important problem? Can’t seem to refocus your attention the way you need to? Taking a 10-minute exercise break could be the key to rebooting your brain and arriving at the results you want, according to new research from Western University in London, Canada.

For the study, the team split participants into two groups: one sat and read a magazine for 10 minutes, and one completed moderate-to-vigorous exercise on a stationary bike for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, each participant completed a cognitively demanding eye movement task that required the use of the part of the brain responsible for things like decision-making and inhibition. During the task, the researchers assessed participants’ reaction times with the use of eye-tracking equipment.

When they compared the results, there was no contest.

“Those who had exercised showed immediate improvement,” study author Matthew Heath said in a statement. “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.”

Unsplash/Christian Joudrey

These results are promising for multiple groups of people. They mean young professionals could find the mental edge they’re looking for just as much as older folks stave off unwanted dementia symptoms. No matter who you are, you will cognitively benefit from an active break. So maybe it’s time to take a note from all of those grade school recess periods and integrate a couple of them into our workdays.

“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,” said Heath. “Our study shows the brain’s networks like it. They perform better.”

So there you have it, folks. Your brain thrives on exercise just as much as the rest of your body does — even if you can only give it 10 minutes at a time.