Shop ParticipACTION
Search
f
f
M

Focus

Get active and get focused

There are a million tasks piling up, and you can’t seem to focus because there’s a bunch of meetings coming up, and you’re already thinking about how you’re going to pick up the kids on time. We’ve all been there — it’s natural to struggle to concentrate on what we’re doing sometimes, whether that’s at work, school or home.

For people looking to improve their focus, exercise is often recommended as the antidote – and for good reason, as research shows that physical activity can improve concentration in people of all ages.

Person in fencing attire pointing at chart with sword

How can getting active help me focus?

Physical activity, specifically aerobic activity, positively affects our ability to focus and pay attention – and that goes for kids, teens and adults. After just 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity,1 the brain works harder to resist distractions, improving your ability to pay attention.

Adults aged 18-64 should get at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity each week. So, if you’re looking to nail your next test score or get that promotion, try getting active!

Wake up your mind by getting active

Regular physical activity helps release brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),2 a brain chemical that is key for memory, concentration and mental sharpness.

Research shows that immediately following exercise, problem solving, memory and attention improve.1 The hippocampus, which is the core of the brain’s learning and memory systems, responds strongly to aerobic exercise.

Evidence shows that this part of the brain grows as people get fitter and partly helps to explain the attention- and memory-boosting benefits of physical activity.3

And the relationship between getting active and benefits on the brain doesn’t end there. A recent study shows that moderate aerobic physical activity not only improves cognitive function but concentration as well.4

A cartoon brain wearing running shoes lifts a barbell  with weights on it

Here’s how:

  • Go for a walk or wheel, grab a friend and hop on your bikes, or check out some of these other activities that can help you focus throughout the day. To start the day off right or to get ready to tackle a project that requires your undivided attention, go for a run or attend a group fitness class.
  • Break up your workday by playing some table tennis with a colleague or by adding a few walking breaks; chances are you’ll come back refreshed and more productive than before.
  • Participate in a team sport like volleyball or hockey in the evening to take your mind off the day’s events and before you dive back in to any evening work.
  • Have a brainstorm or other creative session scheduled? Try to fit in a short, intense burst of activity like a brisk walk before you get to work!
  • Check out the free ParticipACTION app to track your progress and for ongoing motivation, articles and exercise videos.

References

  1. POSTAL, K. (2014). THINK BETTER: EXERCISE. RETRIEVED FROM http://www.karenpostal.com/exercise-think-better/
  2. ZOLADZ & PILC. (2010). THE EFFECT OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY ON THE BRAIN DERIVED NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR: FROM ANIMAL TO HUMAN STUDIES. JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY & PHARMACOLOGY, 61(5), 533-541.
  3. VOSS ET AL. (2013). BRIDGING ANIMAL AND HUMAN MODELS OF EXERCISE-INDUCED BRAIN PLASTICITY. TRENDS IN COGNITIVE SCIENCES, 7(10), 525-544.
  4. ALGHADIR ET AL. (2016). EFFECTS OF MODERATE AEROBIC EXERCISE ON COGNITIVE ABILITIES AND REDOX STATE BIOMARKERS IN OLDER ADULTS. OXIDATIVE MEDICINE AND CELLULAR LONGEVITY, 2016: 2545168.