Well-Being

Just 10 minutes of running can boost mood and cognitive function, study says

Story at a glance

  • Researchers had 26 healthy participants run for 10 minutes on a treadmill and then had them participate in what’s known as a Stroop Color and Word Test, a test used to measure reaction times in brain processing.
  • For example, the word “red” is written in green and participants are asked to name the color instead of reading out the word.
  • The study found participants reacted faster during the tests and reported being in a better mood after 10 minutes of running.

Physical activity has long been known to be good for cognitive health, helping improve learning, memory and problem-solving skills, as well as reduce anxiety and depression. 

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One of the latest studies to look at the relationship between exercise and well-being suggests just 10 minutes of moderate to intense running can help increase blood flow to the part of the brain that plays a key role in controlling mood and executive function, the bilateral prefrontal cortex. 

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan said they aimed to learn more about the role running plays in brain function, noting many studies focused on exercising and wellbeing involve other physical activities such as cycling. 

For the study published in Scientific Reports, researchers had 26 healthy participants run for 10 minutes on a treadmill and then had them participate in what’s known as a Stroop Color and Word Test, a test used to measure reaction times in brain processing. 


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For example, the word “red” is written in green and participants are asked to name the color instead of reading out the word. Participants were also tested after periods of rest as a control. 

Researchers found participants reacted faster during the tests and reported being in a better mood after ten minutes of running. Activity in the bilateral prefrontal cortex also significantly increased during the tests. 

“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,” Hideaki Soya, the study’s author, said in a statement


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