10 minutes to improving cognitive ability

Katelyn Sim

The Iowa State Department of Kinesiology and the College of Human Sciences recently discovered results that could change the way college students view the importance of “hitting the gym.”

Kinesiology assistant professor Spyridoula Vazou and associate professor Ann Smiley-Oyen published findings that show learning can be improved when combined with short bouts of physical activity because of increased cognitive ability .

The study analyzed a group of kids around the age of 10 years old by giving them tests that measured cognitive ability while sitting at a table. They then gave the same test after students engaged in moderate activity, such as crab walking, while answering math problems found that the students performed better after the activity than they had when sitting at the table. 

Even these short bouts of physical activity improved cognitive function in the students, specifically working memory, self-control and focus. 

There are numerous studies to show that longer periods of physical activity can lead to improved cognition in children, but this new study proves that even shorter periods of physical movement can also boost helpful mental performance.

“Just 10 minutes was enough to benefit the kids’ learning,” Vazou said.

So what does this mean for ISU students? Maybe that often-avoided hour a day to “hit the gym” is not only essential for maintaining good physical health, but doubles as an extremely helpful activity for brain function. 

“The brain is healthier in the physically active body,” Smiley-Oyen said. 

Time seems to be limited for college students and multitasking is crucial.

When students are prioritizing their daily to-do lists, students must keep in mind these proven results that physical activity and health just might provide students with the mental focus to study for exams as well.