Excercise and Cognitive Performance

Most of us have gone for a walk to clear our heads at one time or another. Most often, we tend to take this form of exercise while working on very mind-intensive problems, such as studying or reading a hard-to-understand piece of material. According to some researchers, there may be a connection between exercise and clear thinking.


According to this article, your daily run may not only keep you in good health physically, but may also help “clear the cobwebs” from your mind. One of the more widely publicized benefits of exercise is its positive effects on stress levels. As our society moves toward technical jobs rather than those involving physical labor, the number of people living a sedentary lifestyle has increased by leaps and bounds, creating a whole new myriad of health problems along with it. This is not to say that this trend cannot be balanced out, though. Unlike previous generations, to stay healthy and fit, exercise has to be made a priority. Most people in earlier decades got a good amount of exercise during the day in the process of doing their jobs. However, those with desk jobs would have to come up with a different solution.

Interestingly enough, the article also comments on what types or levels of exercise are actually detrimental to cognitive processes. For those that are used to intensive exercise, the normal amount of exercise they get does not fatigue them; thus, it doesn’t  fatigue mental processes, either. The article also describes the effects of overtraining on mental processes as “one step forward and two steps back.” On the other hand, the article mentions that researchers found that “steady-paced aerobic exercise improved the brain’s ability to solve problems and make decisions fast and effectively.”

Exercise in moderation generally has a very positive effect on cognitive performance. In fact, for older people, exercise has been discovered as a possible contributor to Alzheimer’s prevention. Because this disease is becoming more and more prevalent today, it is interesting to see that the condition of the body has such a big effect on the workings of the mind. The psycho-somatic relationship is an interesting one, and more research is likely to be directed this way in the future.

In addition to benefiting the mind, exercise may also help reduce health risks, such as occurrences of heart attacks and cancer. Also, one other important perk of exercise is how it helps dissipate built up stress. With the current state of the economy, it might be a good time for many Americans to rediscover the positive effects that exercise can have on the health of the mind as well as the body.


  1. says

    Exercise can be a form of moving meditation. In martial arts much emphasis is placed on mind-numbing repetition. Your mind enters a blissful state “between the thoughts,” you connect with your spirit, and all the good things happen, including increased cognitive ability.

    Seeing as stress is a state of low-grade “fight or flight” reaction, one of the effects of which is increased level of adrenaline and other hormones. Exercise gets them out of your system. If you don’t exercise, they will keep your body in the state of readiness, causing all sorts of damage.

    Good and timely article, Mark. It is unfortunate that productivity is almost always taken out of the context of our physical bodies.

  2. says

    This is great! Having recently started my own home-based business on the computer, I find myself challenged to get enough exercise throughout the day. This will inspire me.


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