In new research that confirms that exercise is good for the body and mind, sports scientists have determined even short, moderately intense bursts of activity can boost your memory and promote self-control.
The research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, is based on an analysis of two dozen studies of the impact of exercise on higher brain functions, such as memory, concentration, planning, and decision-making in more than 350 children and adults.
Although the studies were inconclusive about the impact of regular exercise on higher brain functions, the analysis showed short bouts of exercise did boost cognitive skills for individuals at all ages. A dozen of the studies indicated that brief workouts were particularly effective in improving self-control, which is important for children and teens in academic achievement and other aspect of daily life, the researchers said.
They concluded the increased blood and oxygen flow to the pre-frontal cortex of the brain may explain the beneficial effects.
"These positive effects of physical exercise on inhibition/interference control are encouraging and highly relevant, given the importance of inhibitory control and interference control in daily life," they said. "Inhibition is essential for regulation of behaviour and emotions in social, academic, and sport settings."
The researchers added that exercise might be a useful treatment for such conditions as attention hyperactivity deficit disorder (ADHD) and autism, and may help delay the ravages of dementia.
"Given the trend for a more sedentary lifestyle, worldwide ageing and the increasing prevalence of dementia, the results highlight the importance of engaging in physical exercise in the general population," they said.
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