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How a short run can improve mental health

We all know that working out produces endorphins or feel-good hormones. Now, a new study proves that even a ten-minute run can make you happier

All you need is a run
All you need is a run (Unsplash)

Too many skipped workouts making you feel blue? It turns out that all you need to do is to find ten minutes a day to go for a run. According to a new study conducted by the University of Tsukuba, only ten minutes of moderate-intensity running increases local blood flow to the various loci in the bilateral prefrontal cortex -- the part of the brain that plays a vital role in controlling mood and executive functions.

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Professor Hideaki Soya, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, pointed out that given the extent of executive control required in coordinating balance, movement, and propulsion during running, it is logical that there would be increased neuronal activation in the prefrontal cortex and that other functions in this region would benefit from this increase in brain resources. Also, running has always played an essential role in the well-being of humans, stated the study. Furthermore, it added that the unique form and efficiency of human running, which includes the ability to sustain this form of exertion (i.e., by jogging as opposed to sprinting), and the evolutionary success of humans are closely linked. 

The research team turned to the Stroop Color-Word Test: "A neuropsychological test extensively used to assess the ability to inhibit cognitive interference that occurs when the processing of a specific stimulus feature impedes the simultaneous processing of a second stimulus attribute, well-known as the Stroop Effect," as a 2017 paper published in Frontiers in Psychology defined it. It was discovered that after 10 minutes of moderate-intensity running, there was a significant reduction in Stroop interference effect time. Furthermore, bilateral prefrontal activation had significantly increased during the Stroop task, says the study. "This was supported by findings of coincident activations in the prefrontal cortical regions involved in mood regulation," said the study's first author Chorphaka Damrongthai.

Also read: How to run better and other fitness tips

In simple words, participants were in a better mood after a run--even this really short one. So, yes, runners high hits you in as little as ten minutes. Now, what is stopping you from lacing up your shoes right away? 

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