We’ve all been there. You’re sat at your desk, trying desperately to type out an email but your brain has simply turned to mush.
So you get up, maybe do a lap around the office, perhaps hide in a toilet cubicle for five minutes and have a little scroll on your phone before making yourself a coffee and filling up your water bottle – just so you feel like you may be able to concentrate again.
Well, what if we told you there’s a more effective antidote than this?
Recently in a unique experiment, ASICS invited competitive gamers from around the world (who specialise in mind games such as Chess and Esports and who rely on their cognitive function), to start an exercise programme.
The programme included medium impact cardio and strength training and it involved increasing exercise levels to 150 minutes a week, or just 21 minutes a day.
And it just goes to show you don’t need to live in the gym to reap the rewards of some brisk exercise.
The findings, after just four months of regular workouts, concluded that minds were significantly sharpened and participants performed at an even higher competitive level.
In fact, their international gaming rankings improved by an incredible 75% – proving, yet again, the close interplay between our mind and body.
Cognitive function was boosted on average by 10%, – with problem-solving abilities improving by 9%, short-term memory increasing by 12% and processing speed and alertness improving by 10%.
Group confidence levels also increased by 44%, concentration improved by 33% and anxiety levels plummeted by 43%.
The research shows exercise can be as effective at boosting brain function as learning a second language, daily reading, playing a new musical instrument or completing a puzzle every day.
Commenting on the results, Professor Brendon Stubbs, who led the experiment, said: ‘We all know that exercise is good for our mental and physical health but the impact on cognitive functioning has been less explored.
‘We wanted to examine the effects of exercise on people who depend on their cognitive abilities – competitive mind gamers.
‘Our results show significant improvements in their cognitive functioning, including concentration levels and problem-solving abilities.
‘Exercise stimulates cell growth in the brain and rapidly increases blood flow to the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, mechanisms that enable us to better retain memories, process information and problem solve quickly.
‘If exercise can significantly increase the mental performance of professional mind gamers, imagine what it could do for the rest of us.
‘From increasing focus when revising for an exam or improving alertness before a work presentation, exercise truly can enhance brain power.’
As well as showing that exercise improved cognitive function and gaming capabilities, Professor Stubbs also found that the gamers’ mental wellbeing was significantly uplifted, with average State of Mind scores improving by 31%.
This mind score at the start of the study was a below average 58 – however, by the end, it was at 76.
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