A Quick Workout May Sharpen Your Performance At Work

New research says a moderate aerobic workout improves cognitive performance — and yoga may be better yet
flickr_k4dordy. Licensed under Creative Commons

Don’t forget your workout if you want to be more effective at work. New research suggests a moderately active workout could help you perform better whatever tasks you take on soon afterwards.

A team of researchers led by Timothy B. Weng of the Department of Health and Human Physiology at the University of Iowa found that a short burst of moderate but active exercise — it used aerobic cycling in its tests — improved working memory, the type of memory connected to taking in information, processing it and using it — i.e. the short-term memory you need to perform tasks.

A control group that undertook passive exercise — sitting on a motor-driven bike, which did not require much exertion — did not see the same improvement in cognitive performance. There was no difference between the two groups, however, when the researchers tested for inhibitory control, which affects the capacity of a person to focus on what is relevant in a task and ignore what isn’t.

The findings, made available online, are due to be published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The study looked at the effect of a single bout of exercise, and not the lasting long-term effects of exercise. Nor did it measure how soon the effects are felt nor how long they last. But they do jive with the common experience of feeling sharper after any moderately active workout whether in the gym or an easy run.

Better yet, might be yoga. A paper published by Neha Gothe of the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign earlier this year in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health said his rteam's esearch showed significantly superior cognitive performance occuring after an acute yoga session compared to an aerobic workout.

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