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Short bouts of exercise - Big gains in the brain!

10 Aug 2019

By Laurie Edge-Hughes, BScPT, MAnimSt (Animal Physio.), CAFCI, CCRT

Off Leash

I found and interesting article!


It’s about some research done at Western University, located in London, Ontario, Canada, and summarizes the following paper:  Ashna Samani, Matthew Heath. Executive-related oculomotor control is improved following a 10-min single-bout of aerobic exercise: Evidence from the antisaccade task. Neuropsychologia, 2018; 108: 73 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.11.029.


To summarize the paper, it essentially showed that as little as 10-minutes of aerobic exercise, can cause a boost in brain performance.  Here’s a description of the study:

“During the study, research participants either sat and read a magazine or did 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise on a stationary bicycle. Following the reading and exercise session, the researchers used eye-tracking equipment to examine participants’ reaction times to a cognitively demanding eye movement task. The task was designed to challenge areas of the brain responsible for executive function such as decision-making and inhibition.”


The outcome?  The people who had exercises prior to testing showed immediate improvement.  They had faster reaction times (50 milliseconds shorter than their pre-test values), which represented a 14% gain in cognitive performance!  The next step in the research will be to determine how long those brain improvements last!  


Interestingly, what makes this research different, is that it shows that just a short bout of exercise has benefits.  Other research has shown brain-benefits after a 24-week long-term exercise program, or benefits after 20 minutes of a single bout of exercise.  But 10 minutes is super achievable for just about anyone!  … even dogs!


There is some research out there as well that talks about dogs, exercise, and improvements in brain function in the aging canine brain, and improvements in the learning of new skills.  What’s great about this particular human study is that we can speculate with almost entire certainty that exercise will improve cognition in the canine brain… and likely with as little as 10-minutes of exercise!


This is great news!  There are so many ways to exercise your dog for just 10 short minutes (at minimum).  The Endless Pool or Underwater Treadmill here at the Canine Fitness Centre offer great ways to exercise your dog indoors when it’s too cold, too hot, too smoky, too rainy, etc. or if YOU are unable to walk them yourself or for a great cross training session!  If you can walk your dog, go on and walk your dog!  You can also set up ways to play with your dog indoors – obstacles to walk over, under, or around, indoor games, hide and seek, or use of a land treadmill.  The point is… Just get them moving!  It will have all of the health benefits you are familiar with (heart and muscles) but also boost their brain power as well!


Have fun (10 minutes at a time)!




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