Two Major Benefits of Running Just 10 Minutes a Day, New Study Says
Everyone has their own way of overcoming mid-day mental fatigue. Some people swear they wouldn't get through the week without coffee and caffeine, while others may prefer a sugar rush to push past the afternoon doldrums. New research from Tsukuba University published in Scientific Reports, however, reports the best way to give your brain a serious boost (in more ways than one) is to get moving.
Exercise is likely the absolute last activity you want to engage in while feeling lethargic. But, take comfort in the fact that you were quite literally made to run. One set of compelling fossil research indicates humans started running about two million years ago. Moreover, we likely evolved from apes in the first place because we needed to cover longer distances faster to survive. So, even if you don't feel like running, rest assured you absolutely can.
So, what exactly can a short run do for your brain? A whole lot, actually. Read on to learn about the incredible benefits you can reap from a brief jogging session! And next, don't miss These Walking Workouts Burn Fat Fast.
Just 10 minutes of running a day
You don't have to run a marathon, or even a 5K, to enjoy the brain benefits of cardio. Study authors report all it takes is just 10 minutes of moderate-intensity running to increase blood flow to the bilateral prefrontal cortex region of the brain. And that neural region just so happens to regulate both mood and executive function.
For reference, executive function is a bit of a blanket term covering mental flexibility, self-control, planning, and working memory. Suffice to say, the bilateral prefrontal cortex is important.
"Given the extent of executive control required in coordinating balance, movement, and propulsion during running, it is logical that there would be increased neuronal activation in the prefrontal cortex and that other functions in this region would benefit from this increase in brain resources," explains study co-author Professor Hideaki Soya.
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Expect a better mood and improved cognition
Even better, the findings suggest that a simple 10-minute jog can boost the brain in two ways. Study participants not only reported feeling more positive after getting in some cardio, but also performed better on a cognitive task.
All in all, these findings suggest that when we move our bodies, it jumpstarts our minds as well. A short jog can help you re-energize mentally, think faster and more clearly, and tackle the rest of the day with a more positive perspective.
"This was supported by findings of coincident activations in the prefrontal cortical regions involved in mood regulation," first study author Chorphaka Damrongthai notes.
A collection of 26 participants were brought in by the research team and asked to run on a treadmill at a moderate pace for 10 minutes. Before and after that, though, each person completed the Stroop Color–Word Test.
That examination features a series of tests intended to assess cognition quality and speed. For example, one such task entails being shown the word "red" (or another color), but the letters are displayed in green. The subject must then name the actual color being displayed, not the word, as fast as possible. That may sound like a fairly simple task but it requires the mind to separate what it is reading from what it is actually seeing. Put in a more scientific way, the brain is forced to process both sets of information and subsequently inhibit the extraneous information.
While all that was happening, brain activity among participants was recorded via functional near-infrared spectroscopy.
Related: The Best Treadmill Under $500, According to a Personal Trainer
An easily accessible form of exercise
As hypothesized, participants were able to correctly complete the cognitive tasks in a faster fashion after running for 10 minutes. They also reported being in a better mood, and the brain readings revealed a notable increase in bilateral prefrontal activation.
In summation, study authors conclude "These findings are valuable in supporting moderate running effect on mental health since running is an easily accessible form of exercise requiring minimal equipment and sport structure."
For more, check out The Best Self-Care Habits to Feel Happy All Winter.