Easy concentration exercises. Having trouble concentrating on telecommuting? A few minutes of exercise may be just what you need. At least that supports a recent review published in the scientific journal Translational Sports Medicine. According to research, just three minutes of exercise is enough to temporarily increase concentration levels. Longer periods of exercise (approximately 60 minutes) can improve cognitive function for the next two hours after training.
The review looked at 13 studies and 10-year data showing the effect of exercise on young adults aged 18-35 years. The types of exercise examined were running, cycling, and walking and lasted for up to an hour. The results showed that moderate to high-intensity exercise improved memory, problem-solving ability, and concentration.
These positive effects seemed to last up to two hours, with researchers noting that a short break – just five minutes – is a significant change that could boost mental performance.
This observation led the review co-author, Peter Blomstrand, MD, Ph.D., to conclude: “Exercise makes you smart.”
Exercise changes the functions of the brain: mental health
Previous research in children has linked exercise with reduced gray matter thickness to the upper frontal cortex. Dilution in this area was associated with improved mathematical ability. Other studies have shown that exercise increases blood flow to the brain, leading to increased hippocampal neuroplasticity and better memory function in people of all ages.
The benefits of exercise to mental health have been studied since the ’70s and physical exercise is recommended by doctors as a tool of prevention and management for those suffering from mental illnesses such as stress. While exercise is by no means a cure, it is often used as a means of controlling symptoms.
In general, everyone is advised to aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week for physical health reasons and although there is no set time for mental health, the belief is that even brief physical activity can make a difference.
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