Study: Short Physical Exercise Can Improve Mental Abilities of Young Adults

Category : Education/Family

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. enhance / ɛnˈhæns / (v) – to improve the quality or condition of something

    The spices enhance the flavor of the meat.

  2. vigorous / ˈvɪg ər əs / (adj) – describing something that involves physical strength and energy

    Athletes usually do vigorous exercise to prepare for competitions.

  3. yield / yild / (v) – to produce a certain result

    The experiment yielded interesting results.

  4. markedly / ˈmɑr kɪd li / (adv) – in a way that is noticeable or very obvious

    The number of college students this year has markedly decreased.

  5. feel-good / ˈfilˌgʊd / (adj) – causing good and happy feelings

    I like watching feel-good TV shows when I’m stressed.


Read the text below.

A new study found that at least 2 minutes of daily exercise can improve young adults’ mental abilities.

According to researchers from Sweden, regular exercise can be linked to improved memory and cognitive functions. However, very little is known about the relationship between exercise and mental abilities specifically in young adults.

To conduct their own investigation, the researchers reviewed 13 studies on the benefits of walking, running, and biking with young adults. The team analyzed how each of these three exercises affected young adults’ cognitive functions, such as memory and learning.

Findings revealed that engaging in at least 1 of the 3 exercises for 2 to 60 minutes helped enhance cognitive functions of young adults. The study did not specify the recommended level of intensity, but both moderate and vigorous physical activities yielded improved attention span, concentration, memory, and problem-solving. The effects of the exercises lasted from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

The study also found that a recovery period was important to achieve full mental benefits. Having a short 5-minute break between exercising and doing mental tasks markedly improved cognitive functions.

The researchers explained that exercise improves the mental abilities of young adults in various ways. According to them, exercising increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and reduces the risk of disorders that might result in memory loss. Exercising also helps the brain increase the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine, which may improve memory and attention. Lastly, doing regular physical activities may stimulate the brain to form new neural connections.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Would you do the three exercises mentioned in the article (i.e. walking, running, and biking) to improve your mental abilities? Why or why not?
• Do you think the scientists should specify the recommended levels of intensity of exercise to improve one’s mental abilities? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What are other ways to improve a person’s mental abilities (e.g. by reading)? Discuss.
• What do you think is the most important mental ability (e.g. memory, logic)? Why?

Category : Education/Family