If you have difficulty concentrating, just 21 minutes of exercise could help

Virgin Radio

24 Jan 2023, 16:06

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If you're ever having a day where you just can't focus, research has found that a short burst of exercise can help.

Whether you've been staring at the same sentence over and over again, or trying to complete your to-do list and failing, lacking focus can be an annoying part of life.

ASICS recently carried out some research and invited competitive gamers from around the world to take part in a study.

The participants specialise in mind games such as Chess and Esports, and they regularly rely on high levels of focus.

They were invited to start an exercise programme.

It involved medium impact cardio and strength training.

They had to increase exercise levels to 150 minutes a week, or just 21 minutes a day.

The results were impressive.

After just four months of regular workouts, participants were operating at even higher competitive level.

Their placements in the rankings improved by 75%.

The team believe it proves the link between mind and body.

Cognitive function was boosted on average by 10%.

It emerged that problem-solving abilities were boosted by 9%, while short-term memory increased by 12%.

Processing speed and alertness increased by 10% and group confidence levels also increased by 44%.

Concentration improved by 33%, and even more impressively, anxiety levels plummeted by 43%. 

Exercise was found to boost brain function as effectively as learning a second language or reading daily.

It was also on par with playing a new musical instrument or completing a puzzle every day.

Experiment leader Professor Brendon Stubbs 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.’

State of Mind scores also improved by 31%.

This mind score at the start of the study was a below average 58 and ended on 76.