Does exercise REALLY sharpen the mind? Experiment challenges competitive gamers to adopt fitness regime for four months (with remarkable results!)
- An experiment explores the link between mental performance and exercise
- In a new Prime Video documentary called Mind Games: The Experiment
- It revealed exercise can significantly improve and advance mental performance
The groundbreaking results of a one-of-a-kind experiment exploring whether exercise can sharpen the brightest minds of competitive gamers have been revealed in a new documentary.
The Prime Video documentary, Mind Games: The Experiment, saw a number of high level game players work physical fitness into their training regimes for four months.
Those featured in the film include international chess master Danish Kassa Korley, Mahjong player Ryoei Hirano, from Tokyo, a professional Street Fighter player Sherry Nhan, from California and memory game competitor Ben Pridmore, from Derby.
The experiment revealed exercise can significantly improve cognitive function and advance mental performance.
The groundbreaking results of a one-of-a-kind experiment exploring whether exercise can sharpen the brightest minds of competitive gamers have been revealed in a new documentary Mind Games: The Experiment (pictured international chess master Danish Kassa Korley)
Each gamer followed a training programme designed by runner turned international coach, Andrew Kastor.
The programme included medium impact cardio and strength training and increased the gamers exercise levels to 150 minutes a week.
After four months of training, each mind game athlete entered a tournament to test if their brainpower had improved.
Professor Brendon Stubbs, who is a renowned researcher in movement and the mind, developed and led the experiment.
The Prime Video documentary, Mind Games: The Experiment, explores the link between mental performance and physical exercise (professional Street Fighter player Sherry Nhan, from California)
Memory game competitor Ben Pridmore, from Derby, also worked physical fitness into his training regime
He measured the mental improvement of the participants based on their performance in their mind games, cognitive tests and wellbeing questionnaires over the course of their four-month research period.
Professor Stubbs said: ‘We all know that exercise is good for our mental and physical health but the impact on cognitive functioning has been less explored.
‘We wanted to examine the effects of exercise on people who depend on their cognitive abilities – competitive mind gamers.
‘Our results show significant improvements in their cognitive functioning, including concentration levels and problem-solving abilities.
‘Exercise stimulates cell growth in the brain and rapidly increases blood flow to the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, mechanisms that enable us to better retain memories, process information and problem solve quickly.
Aa high-level Mahjong, is a tile-based game that was developed in the 19th century in China, player Ryoei Hirano, from Tokyo, also increased his physical activity
‘If exercise can significantly increase the mental performance of professional mind gamers, imagine what it could do for the rest of us.
‘From increasing focus when revising for an exam or improving alertness before a work presentation, exercise truly can enhance brain power.’
As well as showing that exercise improved the participants cognitive function and gaming capabilities, Professor Stubbs also found that the gamers’ mental wellbeing was significantly uplifted, with average State of Mind scores improving by 31 per cent.
The gamers’ average state of mind score at the start of the study was a below average 58 and at the end it was a high 76, demonstrating the significant impact exercise can also have on your mental wellbeing.
Meanwhile problem solving abilities improved by 9 per cent, short-term memory increased by 12 per cent, and processing speed and alertness improved by 10 per cent.
The mind gamers with problem solving abilities improved by 9 per cent, short-term memory increasing by 12 per cent and processing speed and alertness improved by 10 per cent
Group confidence levels increased by 44 per cent, concentration improved by 33 per cent, and anxiety levels plummeted by 43 per cent.
The research showed exercise can be as effective at boosting brain function as learning a second language, daily reading, playing a new musical instrument or completing a puzzle every day.
The study’s Head Coach, Andrew stated: ‘These results are astonishing and speak to the power of exercise.
‘Many of the gamers couldn’t jog for longer than a minute at the start of the study, so their training programmes had to be moderate.
‘150 minutes a week sounds a lot but when you break it down this could be 5 sets of 30 minutes.
‘No matter your fitness levels, the mental benefits of exercise are accessible to all.’
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