How a 15 Minute Jog Can Boost Your Brainpower, According to Science.

If you are stuck on a stressful, thorny problem with no answer in sight, you may want to go for a jog. A new study found that it can sharpen your mind, giving you the mental boost you need to find the right solution more quickly.

The power of jogging: Jogging is already proven to help us feel more energetic. If you are feeling lethargic and down, the simple act of putting one foot in front of another is a proven method to perk you back up. And those increased energy levels you get from movement can strengthen your mind as well as our body. In a new study for Acta Psychologica, Fabian Legrand and his colleagues tested the power that a brief jog can have on our cognition. They found that "a brief bout of moderate intensity exercise can improve the efficiency of certain cognitive processes through increased feelings of energy."

When they recruited 101 undergrad students, they had them complete a cognition test that had them drawing lines between numbers and letters quickly and accurately. To see if exercise could improve scores, they got one group to go for a 15 minute jog around campus and they got another group to do relaxation exercises for 15 minutes. Then they had them repeat a cognition test.

Result: those that went for a brief run were better at processing information more quickly. They had stronger mental speed and attentional control. The relaxation group had significantly less energy than the ones who had time to move around outside. When the afternoon doldrums hit you at your desk, you may be better off going outside for a quick refresher over taking some deep breaths.

The findings, add weight to recent suggestions that "increased feelings of energy may mediate the relationship between aerobic exercise and some aspects of cognitive functioning" the study concludes. If you want your mind firing on all cylinders at full speed, you may want to make time to stretch and move your legs. A brief break may be all the time you need to come back refreshed and ready to go back to work.

Acta Psychologica, Fabian Legrand and his colleagues study is described below...

Brief aerobic exercise immediately enhances visual attentional control and perceptual speed. Testing the mediating role of feelings of energy.

Highlights:
1. Acute exercise is thought to facilitate cognitive processes by replenishing energy levels.
2. Various cognitive performances were measured before and following 15 min of exercise vs. relaxation/concentration.
3. Pre-to post-intervention changes in feelings of energy were also assessed in each group.
4. Significantly differences were found for cognitive processing speed.
5. These differences were fully mediated by changes in feelings of energy.

While the effects of acute exercise on mood and cognitive functions have been separately documented over the last decade, recent findings have pointed to a possible connection between affective responses to exercise and cognitive performance. The main objective of this study was to test whether the effects of acute exercise on cognition were mediated by changes in feelings of energy. One-hundred-and-one undergraduate students were randomized into one of two experimental conditions: 15 minute of jogging at "moderate" intensity, or 15 min of relaxation - concentration (control condition).

Perceptual speed, visual attentional control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility were assessed pre and post-intervention in both groups via the Trail Making Test. Self-rated feelings of energy were also recorded pre and post-intervention. Only completion time for the TMT-A significantly improved from pre to post-intervention in participants who exercised compared with participants who practiced relaxation - concentration. No Group (X) Time interaction was found with regard to the other TMT variables. Finally, changes in feelings of energy were found to fully mediate the relationship between exercise and perceptual speed/visual attentional control.

Taken together, our data suggest that a brief bout of moderate intensity exercise can improve the efficiency of certain cognitive processes through increased feelings of energy, but further research is required to evaluate the duration of benefits and to determine whether these apply to other populations.

Article: How a 15 Minute Jog Can Boost Your Brainpower, According to Science.

Author: Anastasios Schinas.

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