Ever struggled to keep your mind on a task after a long day at the (home) office? Maybe your brain starts to feel sluggish in the afternoon, and all the coffee in the world can’t help speed it up. Fortunately, there’s a quick, 2-minute trick you can do to improve your focus during a long day – all it takes is 120 seconds of exercise.
Most people take up exercise because of its physical benefits – they want to look good in their bikini, their wedding dress, their tinder profile picture – but working out can have considerable cognitive benefits that don’t even require hours of slaving away at the gym.
According to a recent review by the Translational Sports Medicine Journal as little as two minutes of aerobic exercise can improve learning, concentration and memory in young adults.
The review, which consisted of 13 studies on the topic that had been conducted over the last ten years found that “aerobic exercise improves the learning ability and storage in memory when exercise is performed before and in close connection with the learning activity”. The specific exercises they looked at included walking, running, and cycling.
The specific benefits depend on the type of exercise as well as its duration – for example, the review found that “the duration of exercise might be important for cognition but is less important for the memory function”, while a short recovery of 5 minutes after an intense 20 minute workout “may have favourable effect on memory functions but not on planning ability”. However, the conclusion to all of this was that short bursts of exercise has positive impacts on your brain, and thus your ability to perform mental tasks.
Walking or running for a couple of minutes can easily be incorporated into your day, whether you’re working from home or back at the office, so you don’t really have much of an excuse not to give it a try!
So next time you’re struggling to keep your brain on task and need to improve your focus a little, get up and stretch your legs for 2 minutes and check out the difference it makes for you and your productivity.