Brain games do not make you smarter. Companies like Lumosity made their bones throwing around terms like “brain elasticity” to peddle their specific brand of brain boosting training, but upon further review, their claims were a bit dubious. They paid the price in the form of a $2 million false advertising fine, but their misstep doesn’t mean there’s no daily avenue to higher cognitive function.
For kids, the best way to help improve cognitive function is through aerobic exercise. For adults, the best bet is more sedentary, and fortunately a bit less intense; if you want to up your energy and brain function, take some time out of your day to practice Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation.
A new study from the University of Waterloo took a look at the effects of 25 minutes of daily Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation on brain function and energy in a group of 31 adults. The participants were asked to complete 25 minutes of quiet reading as a control activity and 25 minutes of varied meditation at random intervals. Following each activity, the participants were asked to execute a task which would gauge their brain function and energy level.
The research found that following both meditation and Hatha yoga, participants would perform significantly better at the task. The participants who practiced Hatha yoga saw the most sizeable bump in performance.
“There are a number of theories about why physical exercises like yoga improve energy levels and cognitive test performance,” said Kimberly Luu, the study’s lead author, via Science Daily. “These include the release of endorphins, increased blood flow to the brain, and reduced focus on ruminative thoughts. Though ultimately, it is still an open question.”
Twenty-five minutes of tranquility in exchange for higher cognitive function? Not bad at all—just be sure to check what your yoga mat is made of, you don’t want to put your fertility at risk.
[Source: Science Daily]