If you’re stuck on a problem at work, a quick run over lunch — a regular happening here at Triathlon Magazine Canada — might be just what you need to help figure it out.
A recent study looked at the benefits of 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise on executive functions and found that it may be good at improving working memory, the memory which stores information you’re using for the problem at hand.
The research, completed at the American College of Sports Medicine, had 26 young adults, averaging 25 years old, complete tests of their working memory and inhibitory control. All the subjects completed the tests before any exercise. Half completed the text again after 30 minutes on a motorized stationary bike while the other half did the same after 30 minutes of moderate exercise on a stationary bike without a motor. The results showed no improvement in inhibitory control, but those who rode the motorless bikes saw a notable improvement in working memory, suggesting that a quick 30 minutes of exercise may be able to help with tough mental problems.
There does need to be more research to come to any conclusive results; the study didn’t involve a ton of subjects, but it does give a small weight to ample anecdotal evidence that a quick bout of exercise, from a walk around the block to a lunch workout, can help mentally at work.