Even 10-Minute Exercise Routines Can Improve Brain Function Says New Study

Patricia Grannum - Author

Dec. 21 2017, Updated 11:45 a.m. ET

Exercise is something we all need to improve our health. However, many of us feel that we don’t have enough time to work out. But a new study from Western University in London, Canada has found that even short 10-minute aerobic exercise routines can dramatically boost our critical thinking skills and ability to focus.

During the study, researchers examined two groups of people. One group was inactive for 10 minutes while the other did 10 minutes of medium to fast-paced physical activity on a stationary bike. After the 10 minutes were up, each participant from both groups went through a grueling cognitive task devised to test the parts of their brains that are responsible for decision-making skills and inhibition.

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As the press release from Western University notes, the group that did 10 minutes of exercise scored higher than the participants who were inactive. They answered more questions correctly, and their response times eclipsed their pre-exercise records. In certain instances, brain function improved by almost 14 percent, which is a significant increase, according to the scientists who conducted the study.

They advise that anyone who has to take an exam, go to a job interview or do anything that’s mentally demanding should get some exercise first. It gives you an extra cognitive edge versus someone who may have been inactive before the task.


The researchers have also suggested that the study’s findings could be especially important when designing treatments for older people with dementia who may not be able to withstand long periods of exercise.

The full text of the study’s findings was published in the journal, Neuropsychologia. As the abstract of the study notes, previous research has indicated that brain function benefits develop after 20 minutes of exercise or as a result of longer workout programs. This research turns that consensus on its head. It indicates that all you need is 10 minutes of aerobic exercise to get the brain boost. So you probably do have enough time to get that workout in, after all.

According to one of the lead researchers, they’re currently working on a study that seeks to figure out how long these positive brain effects last after short bouts of exercise.


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