Only 10 Minutes of Physical Activity Can be Helpful for Your Brain

Written by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Exercise Boosts Brainpower

Our brain works hard 24/7 to help us learn and retain new information in order to study better and do our job properly. Everything you do, and even your emotions, moods, movements and senses, is regulated by this powerful organ. Due to stress, lack of sleep, and other factors brainpower can decrease and decreases one’s focus, memory, concentration, problem-solving skills and many others.

As you age, cognitive functions naturally decline but you’re not helpless in all this. Simple lifestyle adjustments can improve the way your brain works and physical activity has a major role. A new study shows you can achieve brainpower with minimum 10 minutes of exercise.

Previous Research On Exercise And Brainpower

A study[1] from March 2017, revealed that workouts lasting up to one hour exhibit positive effects on an executive function which involves cognitive inhibition, attentional control, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and working memory.

In September 2017, the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience[2] published a study that showed 20-minute training can benefit mental performance. It was easy to assume that 20 minutes of exercise is the smallest amount of physical activity needed for brain health and function.

Is 10-Minute Workout Enough?

Is 10-Minute Workout Enough

The latest study showed that the minimal amount of exercise one has to obtain for brainpower is 10 minutes. Professor Matthew Heath and a team of scientists at the Western University in Ontario, Canada carried out a study whose primary objective was to determine whether a boost in mental power can occur even if people don’t exercise for 20, but opt for 10 minutes of activity.

The idea to test whether 10 minutes of physical training can boost brainpower stems from the fact that some people can’t commit to longer workouts due to physical limitations, certain diseases, among other reasons.

For this purpose, they enrolled healthy young adults who performed a 10-minute single-bout of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise. Scientists measured their executive control pre- and post-workout with antisaccade task. The antisaccade tasks are defined as executive tasks which require a goal-directed eye movement mirror-symmetrical to visual stimuli.

Findings were published in the January 2018 issue of the Neuropsychologia[3] and they showed that participants who exercised experienced immediate improvement. They had more accurate responses and exhibited faster reaction times by 50 milliseconds compared to their scores prior to the exercise. While 50 milliseconds seem like an insignificant improvement, represent 14% gain in cognitive performance.

How Can Such a Short Workout Help?

You’re probably wondering how does a 10-minute workout help improve brainpower. Scientists theorize it could be due to the ability of exercise to stimulate the frontoparietal network, the area of the brain that has already been involved in the exercise-based increase in brain function.

Professor Heath explains[4] these findings show people can engage in brisk walking or do some other forms of short training in order to achieve immediate benefits. The study shows us that our brain is thankful regardless of how much we exercise, and it shows its gratitude by enhancing your cognitive functions. That’s why you should strive to be more active, exercise regularly, and favor a healthy lifestyle.

When studying for upcoming exams or working on demanding projects, take a 10-minute break to go out and walk or do some exercises in the comfort of your room. You’ll notice an improvement.


Canadian scientists discovered that 10 minutes of exercise is enough to experience a boost in brainpower. This only confirms the importance of physical activity for cognitive functions and stresses the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

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Contributor : Dr. Ahmed Zayed ()

This Article Has Been Published on January 1, 2018 and Last Modified on December 11, 2018

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain Shams University. You can connect with him on Linkedin.

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