However, with more and more people working through their lunch breaks, it’s key that we do find time to fit in as much physical activity as we can, whether that be anything from a brisk walk to a 10-mile run. Exercise doesn’t just impact our physical health, but also our cognitive and psychological health; both of which are often under-emphasised when we talk about the need to perform exercise. Unfortunately, our society has an ever-increasing emphasis on working for a living and a reduced amount of leisure time, which can lead to problems when trying to live an active and healthy lifestyle – as many of us feel that we just do not have the time or the energy to go to the gym.
Recent studies have shown that our learning and productivity can be influenced by what we experience immediately afterwards, including physical activity. Research has demonstrated that low-impact exercise, done immediately after learning, led to better recall amongst women, as opposed to doing a non-active activity like sitting down, or reading. This gives us yet another reason to try and fit in a half-hour class or gym session at lunch – not only does it increase your serotonin levels, making you feel upbeat and energetic, and allows you to step away from your desk for a while, but also might improve your productivity in the afternoon.
Typically, endurance training is thought to have the best effect on cognition – aka how well our brain is working. This study, however, suggests that short bursts of exercise can actually be very beneficial to our memory. It suggests that, after as little as 5 minutes of exercise after working, learning or studying, can help us to retain those memories – so long as we do it straight away.
Even better, there is a growing amount of evidence to support the fact that physical activity leads to greater mental health and self-confidence. Simon Donovan, one of our PTs at Sport & Fitness, has undertaken qualifications in GP and Exercise Referral as well as Obesity and Diabetes Management. In addition to working as a personal trainer, Simon also has experience in health and wellbeing physiology and educating people about how to manage their lifestyle to achieve optimal health and fitness. He says:
‘Making an effort to fit in some activity during your lunch period can set you up well for the afternoon. It can prevent that 3pm slump during the afternoon where you may ordinarily be reaching for a sugary snack or a caffeine hit to keep your work or studies on track. Why not kill two birds with one stone and swerve these potential pitfalls whilst also incorporating some physical activity and all of the benefits that this offers.’
– Simon Donovan
This means that, even just a small amount of physical exercise such as a short walk can help us to remember more in a typical day, which can be a great help for things like work and revision. It might mean getting up from that library desk and going for a walk around our beautiful campus, or a lunchtime stroll away from the office – it could do your brain the world of good!
Read more about the study and how exercise can help you retain memories here.
Check out our timetable of classes and other options for getting your daily dose of exercise!