The short answer is "yes." Physical exercise can improve a person's memory and concentration. Scientific research shows that exercising releases more of the chemical compounds used in brain activity and cognition, thus improving your ability to focus. This information is especially relevant for older adults or other people at risk for cognitive decline or dementia.
How Does Exercise Help?
Research shows that aerobic exercises, such as running, creates compounds that support the creation of new neurons and protect preexisting ones, and it also benefits parts of the brain needed for forming and storing memories. Exercises like lifting weights has been shown to aid associative memory in women. Because these different types of exercises perform different roles to improve concentration, it is important to incorporate both aerobic and strength training exercises into your workouts. Along with helping brain cells to survive, regular exercise also reduces inflammation and insulin resistance.
In addition to its direct effects on mental performance, physical activity can also aid concentration by improving overall health. Feeling tired, uncomfortable, and irritable can take a toll on mental health, especially the ability to concentrate. Developing a regular exercise routine can boost mental health and combat conditions that make concentrating difficult, such as depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
Which Exercises Are Best for My Concentration?
Research shows that doing any exercise instead of remaining inactive is good for concentration and memory. However, because aerobic and resistance exercise help concentration in different ways, it's a good idea to try to incorporate both forms of exercise into your workout routine. Some suggestions for exercises that can help boost concentration include:
Taking a brisk walk every day for about a half hour will help you clear your mind and get your heart pumping.
This martial art was created in China, and many older adults or people who are inactive are advised to try it because it is not strenuous on the body. The boost in vigor sharpens your concentration.
In addition to being an exercise, yoga is also a stress-relief technique. Lower stress levels have been shown to improve concentration and cognitive performance. Therefore, yoga can help reduce stress levels and increase concentration.
Taking classes at a local gym can help you learn firsthand from an instructor how to do these exercises properly and effectively while minimizing the risk of injuries. Online courses, books, and videos are also available to help you learn how to do different exercises.
Other lifestyle changes, such as getting adequate sleep and eating foods rich in omega-3 acids, can also help improve concentration. Click on the following link for more tips on treating decreased concentration.
- Godman, H. (2015). Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills. Retrieved November 4, 2015, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
- Kauts, A. & Sharma, N. (2009). Effect of yoga on academic performance in relation to stress. International Journal of Yoga, 2(1), 39-43. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.53860
- Reynolds, G. (2013). Getting a Brain Boost through Exercise. Retrieved November 4, 2015, from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/how-exercise-may-boost-the-brain/?_r=0