Does Exercise Increase Brain Power?

Want to improve your memory, focus, and mental performance? Forgo that cup of coffee at work, and instead, engage in a few minutes of exercise. Does exercise increase brain power? Apparently so, according to research published recently in the British Medical Journal.

Does Exercise Increase Brain Power?

Does exercise increase brain power? A little jog or walk before a presentation may work wonders. (photo:

Does exercise increase brain power? A little jog or walk before a presentation may work wonders. (photo:

… researchers have found that even just one bout of exercise can — even better than a cup of coffee — improve your mental focus and cognitive performance for any challenging task you face that day.

A new analysis of 19 studies involving 586 kids, teens, and young adults that was published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal found that short 10 to 40 minutes bursts of exercise led to an immediate boost in concentration and mental focus, likely by improving blood flow to the brain.

“These results provide further evidence that doing about 20 minutes of exercise just before taking a test or giving a speech can improve performance,” said Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey, who wrote the best-selling book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

Here’s one exercise suggestion.

To improve immediate mental performance, think quick-and-dirty exercise bouts. A short, sweaty session of jumping rope, running in place, squat bends can quickly improve blood flow to the brain, helping to improve the transmission of signals through the nerve cells, according to Ratey. Try to squeeze in this mini-workout within an hour before you’re expected to perform.

You can read the entire article here.

Does exercise increase brain power? If it works for the younger generation as in the study described above, no reason it won’t work for others. Try incorporating a few minutes of exercise several times a day. Set a timer. If your boss complains, tell him/her you’re improving your memory and focus. Right before a presentation is a particularly good time to engage in a little exercise.

I’d also suggest adding exercise breaks into training courses. If you want people to remember what they’re learning ( and what instructor doesn’t), then try them in your sessions. Your training programs will really stand out.

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  1. Exercise is good for the body and brain! It’s a shame that so many people don’t make the connection.

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