There is no denying we are living in an age of distraction. So many ‘bright and shiny’ things to capture our brains attention, its a amazing we get anything done. It takes extra brain energy to shift attention, and when your brain has to do it all day long, it can really drain your energy and dampen your ability to get things done.
You probably have heard the term Executive Function. It is a way to describe how your brain helps you get things done. If your energy and time are limited by your life, or a medical issue or a medication, boosting your executive function could make life a bit easier.
There are mixed results on the various methods for improving executive function. There is however, one research-backed method that seems to work with great consistently in people of all ages. Yes, you guessed it, exercise!
“ample evidence indicates that regular engagement in aerobic exercise can provide a simple means for healthy people to optimize a range of executive functions.”
What do you notice about how exercise helps your brain function? If you are a regular exerciser, you may not notice any benefits until you don’t exercise and you feel a bit more distractable and less effective. If you have not yet found that exercise helps your brain, here are three things to consider that may help:
- Aerobic exercise (AKA Cardio): This is when you move continuously using a majority of your muscles (IE: Walking, dancing, swimming, seated aerobics, biking) at a level that your breathing is moderate to a comfortable challenge. Studies show as little as 10-15 minutes of cardio can improve executive function.
- Use it as a tool: Studies show the brain benefits are immediate; the brain functions better after one bout of aerobic exercise. Exercise can be a tool for functioning better each day. It can also be a way to ensure you are at the top of your game before a test, important meeting, or doing any task requiring focus and organization. Try a 10 minute bout of aerobic exercise before reaching food or caffeine when your energy is low and see if it works just as well (or even better?)
- Your enjoyable time-out: If exercise is stress-producing, it will not have as much brain (or health) benefit as when it is stress-reducing. Exercise is your time-out from the strains of everyday life. Make it enjoyable and your brain (and body) will thank you for it.
In this age of distraction, how can you make exercise one of your best tools to help make the most of every day? Be your own investigator. Try different types and timing of exercise to see what works best for your brain.
Keep moving, be well,