Doing This for 10 Minutes Can Make You a Better Problem-Solver

Aerial view of runner on pavement

A 10-minute run might not do much for your fitness, but it can do wonders for your brain.

Can’t figure out whether to zig left or zag right to reach your company’s quarterly goal? A short jog is all it takes to stimulate neuronal activity in the area of your brain responsible for quicker, clearer thinking, according to a study in the journal Nature.

Male and female runners jogging on track

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“After 10 minutes of running at moderate-intensity, the results showed that the bilateral prefrontal cortex was activated, accompanied by faster reaction time on cognitive tasks and enhanced mood,” says lead author Chorphaka Damrongthai, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan.

To test cognition, scientists asked study participants to complete a brainteaser and compared it to non-exercisers. While you don’t necessarily have to lace up your trainers to reap brain benefits if pavement pounding isn’t your thing, a session on your stationary bike might not cut it, cautions Damrongthai.

The reason: Neurons in this part of the brain are activated by full-body, weight-bearing movement. To give them some juice, try hiking, kickboxing, or tennis instead.

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