Have you ever been at work and found it very difficult to focus or think clearly when you needed to? More and more studies are showing that nutrition and exercise directly impact improvements in cognitive function and help the mind actually function better. If you think about it, it really does make sense. If we break it down, when you eat you are fueling your body, not just to have energy to do all the things you need to do in a day physically, but also to feed your mind.
When you exercise, you are increasing the oxygen flow through your body and breaking up that stagnant, slowing effect that can become apparent when you are lethargic and not eating well. Have you noticed people who regularly run or exercise as well as pay attention to eating well in your office? Often they are the ones with annoyingly high energy, friendly attitudes and on top of their game with ideas and organization with their work!
A U.S. News & World Report health article reported a study on 124 men and women to show a difference in high blood pressure from added healthy diet and fitness, but also showed improvements in cognitive function. The two things focused on in this study were eating and exercise. In terms of eating, they focused on reducing portion sizes and altering habits like snacking. For exercise, it was a minimal program which consisted of 30-minute workouts 3-4 times each week. This study was done for the duration of 4 months and showed a 30% improvement on average in mental function.
In my humble opinion, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. There have been numerous studies showing drastic improvements in children’s behavior patterns and ability to learn in schools that had healthy lunch programs. Why would it be any different for adults? It is amazing, however, to think that there could be as much as 30% improvement in your cognitive activity from just four months. This should be enough to inspire each and every one of us to change our bad habits, as we could get more done and be more efficient in our work without it being a struggle or depending on that fourth cup of coffee to carry us through!
I like the idea of having a “recess” for adults during the workday!
I recently read a book called “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” which contains dozens of studies and statistics verifying the positive effects of exercise on the brain. It’s a great book. And I think you’re right…the chance that we can improve our cognition by 30% should definitely inspire us to change!
Thanks for the article.
Health & Fitness for the Professional Woman