Let’s look at why it is important to exercise as we get older and let’s look at the question ‘does exercise improve concentration and focus?’
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.
How Does Exercise Improve Concentration And Focus?
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 neighbors, 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. I am sure teachers will agree here.
Did you know that exercising regularly is one of the easiest ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood? Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention.
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.
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
What Type Of Exercises Should You Do?
Meditation is one of those brilliant exercises that really help with concentration and focus and although it may seem simple to do, try it and see just how difficult it is to keep your mind still.
You can read more about meditation here.
Other than practicing your meditation, moderate exercise each day is a must. Yoga and Tia Chi are also excellent as you need to concentrate hard in order to perform the exercises properly.
Find something that you enjoy doing like walking or dancing. This way you are far more likely to keep doing it on a regular basis.
Maybe alternate with cardio like walking and strength exercises each day. The key is remaining active well into your prime years for better focus and concentration as well as a better quality of life.
You don’t need to be fit enough to run a marathon to keep your body and mind healthy, but sitting around all day is not going to cut it.
Don’t forget to add in some stretching and flexibility, especially as you get older. At the end of a workout, one should always try to stretch out the muscles that you have worked.
Pilates is a great one to keep up as you get older as there is less wear and tear on your joints, and you can strengthen your core and all the muscles that stabilize you resulting in fewer falls as you get older.
When it comes to the question again of does exercise improve concentration and focus, the answer is a resounding yes, as you have seen in the above studies.
Exercise gives you a chance to think about other things other than the tasks that you are busy with, clears your mind, and gets you mentally prepared for any other tasks you may have planned for.