Why run? you may wonder. Some people use running as a way to relax from a busy day. Well, keep it up because lacing up has been proven to help you wind down and de-stress. There is now a new research to show that it’s even more beneficial for your brain than the meditation portion of that yoga class you’ve been taking.
According to a recent study published in the journal Acta Psychologica, going out for as little as one to two miles improves attention span, concentration, and overall mood more than meditation does.
Researchers in France had 101 University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne students take two cognitive tests. The Vigor-Activity (VA) subscale of the Profile of Mood States, which assesses levels of perceived energy, and the Trail Making Test (TMT), which is split up into two parts and evaluates processing skills.
Afterward, the students took the same two cognitive tests again – and the results were clear. Those who ran scored an average of two points higher on the VA subscale and were an average of eight seconds faster on both parts of the TMT test.
However, those who underwent guided relaxation scored an average of six points lower on the VA subscale and were an average of one-third of a second slower on the first part of the TMT test and one-tenth of a second slower on the second part of the TMT test.
Fabien Legrand, Ph.D., senior lecturer of psychology at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne and the study’s lead author explained that “the changes in cognition brought about by exercise could be explained in terms of indirect effects—in particular, increased feelings of energy.”
Translation? Those who went for a run came back more peppy and awake, which improved their moods and helped them focus better on the tests at hand. But those who meditated reported feeling more tired and groggy, therefore performing worse on the tests.
So if you need a quick way to boost your mood, no matter what time of day, logging a quick couple of miles should do the trick.
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