Thursday, February 10, 2011

Aerobic Exercise and Cognitive Function

Defrag your brain with physical activity breaks. Recent studies show that bursts of aerobic exercise improve cognitive function.

Just as your muscles need time to recover after periods of exertion, your brain isn’t designed to fire constantly for eight hours at a stretch. Keep your cognitive skills high by building a little physical activity in to your day.

According to two 2009 studies, aerobic exercise (anything that raises your heart rate and quickens your breathing, such as a brisk walk, bike ride or stair-climbing session) works best: In a Japanese study, adult men performed a simple cognitive task more quickly after riding a bike at a moderate pace. And in a study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana, researchers found that preadolescents of both sexes performed better and faster on cognitive tasks after a 20-minute session of moderate-intensity treadmill walking.

When you notice your mental acuity start to fade during the day, strap on your comfortable shoes and get moving for 15 to 20 minutes — your faster performance upon your return will make up for the time it takes.

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