Focus & Concentration - Can Exercise Help?
Simply put, physical exercise is beneficial to just about every aspect of the body. Everything from improved heart health, weight management, increased vitality and, of course, looking better in the mirror are all side effects of a consistent exercise routine.
However, the benefits available through exercise go much further than skin deep. Challenging your body physically also has the ability to greatly improve your cognitive function and brain health.
If you tend to struggle with focus and concentration, you are certainly not alone.
Today’s society is more distracted than ever before. Every waking hour of the day (and even while you sleep), there are phone notifications, noisy neighbours and a long list of other distractions all competing for your attention.
While you may never have considered exercise as a viable method of improving your ability to focus, this article will support this notion with several research studies that should change your mind.
In a study performed on a group of Dutch students, researchers used objective measures to gauge the attention span of students after dividing them into three groups. One group of students performed two twenty-minute bouts of moderate exercise intermittently during their morning lessons, another group was allowed one twenty-minute exercise session, while the third group remained seated throughout the same time period.
As you can probably guess, the groups that were allowed to exercise scored significantly higher on attention span assessments, with the first group scoring even higher than the students exercising for only one session.
Another study supporting the use of exercise to improve focus and concentration was conducted in 2007 using students in Massachusetts. For the sake of brevity, this study concluded that students receiving at least 56 hours of physical exercise each school year scored higher than their peers who only performed 28 hours of exercise.
This is an interesting proponent of the idea that physical exercise should remain an integral part of the education system. Usually, supporters of this idea state the rising levels of obesity and diabetes in school-aged individuals are the primary reason for including physical activity throughout the school year. While this is certainly an issue, the cognitive benefits available to students who exercise more is a strong argument as well.
The website, Positive Psychology, describes how physical activity triggers a biological response in the brain that improves focus and concentration. During exercise, the brain releases a chemical known as BDNF, which is known to be responsible for nourishing brain cells and allowing new neural pathways to form inside the brain.
Furthermore, regular exercise increases a neurotransmitter known as norepinephrine. This results in a heightened sense of alertness, energy, and concentration.
In conclusion, the human body is designed to remain in motion. The term, “use it or lose it,” is an extremely applicable way to describe how without exercise, many important aspects of our anatomy suffer.
While the purpose of this article is to illustrate the fact that you can certainly improve your focus and concentration by dedicating some time in your schedule to get moving, the benefits of physical activity are critical to your quality of life as a whole.
If you are looking for a great way to overcome the never-ending flurry of distractions present in your life that can also nourish your body as a whole, get into the habit of giving your body the physical activity that it requires.
10 Neurological Benefits of Exercise. (2020, April 16). Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/exercise-neurological-benefits/
Can You Improve Concentration Through Exercise? - EuroPace. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.europace.org/can-you-improve-concentration-through-exercise/
How physical exercise makes your brain work better. (2016, June 18). Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/jun/18/how-physical-exercise-makes-your-brain-work-better
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We have outsourced our lifestyle for way too long!