Blog > The Exercise-Focus Connection: 5 Ways to Boost Your Brainpower Through Movement

The Exercise-Focus Connection: 5 Ways to Boost Your Brainpower Through Movement

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Exercise cycling class

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You may think of exercise and focus as important but not connected entities. You commit to a daily step count, carve out time for workouts, and choose active pastimes to fulfill your fitness goals. To sharpen your focus, you adopt strategies like time blocking to minimize distractions. They appear to be separate quests, don’t they?

The bond between physical activity and mental focus might be stronger than you realize. According to the American Sports and Fitness Association, studies have found that people who exercise regularly deal with fewer mental distractions and can switch focus faster when juggling multiple tasks.

However, the connection between exercise and focus extends even further. Here are five ways physical activity can bolster your concentration at work and in other areas of life.

1. Improved Concentration and Productivity

The same American Sports and Fitness Association article above noted that aerobic exercise can improve concentration and productivity. Just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise can improve your attention span, memory recall, and problem-solving skills.

Additionally, exercise overall—any kind—can help increase energy levels and blood flow to the brain, which improves productivity and allows you to stay more clearly focused on tasks longer.

Furthermore, Harvard Health notes that in those who exercise, the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger than in those who don’t exercise regularly. Still, if you’re one of the non-regular exercisers who doesn’t currently boast this larger part of the brain, you can fix that in just six months.

2. Increased Brain Efficiency

Physical activity enhances overall health and boosts brain efficiency, leading to a quicker work pace, heightened productivity, and improved focus. As a neuroscientist reported to CNBC, even a single exercise session can shorten reaction times, enabling you to respond more swiftly to mental challenges. Furthermore, as brain efficiency climbs, you’ll find it easier to sustain attention while managing incoming information, sidestepping the delays typically associated with shifting from one task to another.

Although true multitasking is a myth—since the brain is wired to concentrate on one thing at a time, as per the Cleveland Clinic—regular exercise can refine your brain’s efficiency, reaction speed, and ability to switch focus rapidly. This can significantly facilitate the handling of multiple responsibilities simultaneously.

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3. Greater Mental Energy

As briefly mentioned above, exercise helps increase physical and mental energy. The American Sport and Fitness Association report shared that some studies have found that exercise can increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain by up to 15%, boosting mental energy and improving cell communication.

4. Better Stress Management

You may have noticed that on days laden with stress, engaging in some form of physical activity can bring a sense of relief. This isn’t merely a happy accident or a simple case of exercising away the tension. Biological mechanisms are at work, confirming that exercise is a powerful tool for managing stress, which in turn enhances focus. After all, consider the quality of your concentration when you’re overwhelmed by stress…it’s likely not very good.

As the American Sport and Fitness Association noted, exercise helps your body release endorphins, which can improve your mood and help you manage emotions. Moderate aerobic exercise can help you manage stress and anxiety via better sleep. Additionally, exercise helps your body release dopamine, which improves focus and attention and helps your brain link an activity to a perceived reward — inspiring you to exercise again later.

5. Neurochemical benefits

In the same CNBC article linked above, the neuroscientist shared that movement has been linked to the release of certain neurochemicals beyond dopamine, including acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. All of these can lead to neurochemical benefits, including improved management of mood, anxiety, and depression, issues that can negatively impact your focus.

It only takes about 10 minutes of movement for these chemicals to be released, and the movement doesn’t need to be intense at all — a simple walk can do the trick, or even activities that you might already be doing that just so happen to raise your heart rate, such as vacuuming or doing yard work.

However, the same neuroscientist noted that aerobic exercise is most effective for seeing all the above benefits, as it increases your heart rate and oxygen flow. They recommended starting with three to four 30-minute workout sessions per week.

The Bottom Line

As Amanda Deak, health coach at Arootah explains, “Exercise is not just about physical health, it also plays a crucial role in enhancing mental focus and clarity. By incorporating regular physical activity into your routine, you can sharpen your concentration, boost productivity, and improve overall cognitive function. Remember that the body achieves what the mind believes!”

So, if you’re wondering how to stay focused at work, especially in a very chaotic and demanding environment where numerous responsibilities often split your attention, exercise can help. Maintaining a consistent workout routine can significantly enhance your focus, benefiting you personally and professionally.

Feeling uncertain about establishing an exercise routine or questioning whether it’s possible to integrate physical activity into your busy schedule? Schedule a complimentary results call with an Arootah Health Coach to discover how we can provide the support you need.

Get actionable tips to help you energize and reprioritize self-care. Sign up for The Wellness Return newsletter today.

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Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as professional medical, psychological, legal, investment, financial, accounting, or tax advice. Arootah does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in our newsletter, blog or anywhere else on our website.

Tags:  Fitness | Focus | Health
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