There is more and more research being done to answer this question: Can exercise boost brain power?

The answer is yes, and even short bursts of exercise count.

Researchers at Western University in London, Canada, found that a 10-minute burst of aerobic exercise measurably boosts brain power by priming the parts of the brain that help us problem-solve and focus.

Now there is more reason to exercise before work or schedule a lunch break workout.

“Some people can’t commit to a long-term exercise regime because of time or physical capacity,” says Kinesiology Prof Matthew Heath, who conducted the study. “This shows that people can cycle or walk briskly for a short duration, even once, and find immediate benefits.”

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Related: Best 10-minute workout for busy women

The study

For the study, research participants either sat and read a magazine or did 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise on a stationary bicycle.

Afterwards, researchers used eye-tracking equipment to examine participants’ reaction times to a cognitively demanding eye movement task. The task was designed to challenge areas of the brain responsible for executive function such as decision-making and inhibition.

A 10-minute burst of aerobic exercise can measurably boost brain power by priming the parts of the brain that help us problem-solve and focus

Related: This is your brain on exercise

The brain’s networks like exercise

“Those who had exercised showed immediate improvement. Their responses were more accurate and their reaction times were up to 50 milliseconds shorter than their pre-exercise values,” says Heath.

He says this represents a 14-percent gain in cognitive performance in some instances.

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

Source: University of Western Ontario via

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