A 10-minute run can boost your brain function

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In a new study from the University of Tsukuba, researchers found that only 10 minutes of moderate-intensity running increases local blood flow to the various loci in the bilateral prefrontal cortex.

It is the part of the brain that plays an important role in controlling mood and executive functions.

These findings may contribute to the development of a wider range of treatment recommendations to benefit mental health.

There’s clear evidence that physical activity has many benefits, such as the ability to improve mood, but in previous studies, cycling was often the form of exercise studied.

In the study, the team looked closely at the effects of running on brain regions that control mood and executive functions.

They used the well-established Stroop Color-Word Test and captured data on hemodynamic changes associated with brain activity while participants were engaged in each task.

For example, in one task, incongruent information was shown, i.e., the word “red” written in green, and the participant must name the color rather than read out the word.

To do so, the brain must process both sets of information and inhibit extraneous information.

The Stroop interference effect was quantified by the difference in response times for this task and those for a simpler version of the task—stating the names of color swatches.

The team found that after 10 minutes of moderate-intensity running, there was a big reduction in Stroop interference effect time.

Furthermore, bilateral prefrontal activation had strongly increased during the Stroop task. After running, participants reported being in a better mood.

Given that many characteristics of the human prefrontal cortex are uniquely human, this study not only sheds light on the present benefits of running but also on the possible role that these benefits may have played in the evolutionary past of humans.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about best foods for brain health,  and findings of 13 things that your doctor can check to help protect brain health.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about two things that are the key to suppressing COVID-19, and results showing that even mild cases of COVID-19 leave a mark on the brain.

The study is published in Scientific Reports. One author of the study is Chorphaka Damrongthai.

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