We’ve all experienced it—that midday drag when our tired, overloaded brain just shuts down. With deadlines, no doubt, looming and beating our head against our desk and chasing it with yet another cup of Joe doing nothing to jumpstart our brain back to life, it can send us into a bit of a panic. But what if we told you all you need to do is take a ten and do some high-intensity exercise to boost your brain back to attention?
One study we found suggests that 10 minutes of exercise is all it takes to wake your brain back up. If you want to test the results, just give it a try for yourself and see what happens. Let’s explore the research in this seventh installment of our April exercise series.
Can You Boost Your Brain with Ten Minutes of Exercise?
The study consisted of one group of sedentary subjects (reading for 10 minutes) and one group of active subjects (riding a stationary bike at a moderate to vigorous pace for 10 minutes). The Decision-making tests were performed on all subjects both before and after the biking or reading. These measured responses and accuracy.
The result? The active group had much faster responses, and their reaction times were also significantly more accurate than their own baseline measurements. The brain boost was only observed in the exercise group. Naturally, the exercise benefits to the brain are situational and temporary, but length of brain improvement was not within the scope of this study. However, the point in this case is to give us enough of a brain boost to get us through that looming afternoon deadline, not to get us through four years of college. Though exercise may be able to help with that as well…
A Gut Connection May Provide Longer-Term Brain Benefits of Exercise
One vehicle in which longer-term brain benefits may travel following exercise is the gut. We know based on another study that aerobic exercise may actually improve your gut microbiome, or the bacterial environment in your gut.
There’s also been an association established, in recent years, between the brain itself and the condition of the gut microbiome. For example, in Parkinson’s patients, specific tissue fibers found in the brain have also been discovered in the gut. What does this mean exactly? That there could be a connection between the two. Another study suggested that it’s possible that Parkinson’s actually begins in the gut and then moves to the brain.
The emotion-processing area of the brain also seems to be impacted by the condition of our gut bacteria. When those bad bacteria are overpowering out gut, this may negatively affect our ability to process our emotions. So connecting all of these links, if exercise improves the health of our gut, and our gut is connected to our brain, we can further make the link between exercise and brain health as well.
So for those short-term brain boosts, that 10-minute burst of exercise may be just the thing to improve your cognitive function and get you through the rest of your work day. But for keeping the brain healthy long-term and keeping those emotions balanced, regular exercise is key!