A 10-Minute Workout Can Do This One Awesome Thing For Your Brain, According To Science

by Georgina Berbari

You totally planned to wake up an hour earlier so you could get a nice long workout in first thing in the morning — but, alas, you snoozed your alarm and only have 10 minutes to spare. You might as well just skip it altogether, right? Are 10-minute workouts even effective, or are you just wasting precious time that you could spend brewing the perfect cup of coffee or getting out the door a few minutes earlier to impress your boss?

Listen, I'm not saying you shouldn't make great coffee or impress your boss, but according to science, 10-minute workouts are incredibly effective for not just your body, but also your brain. In fact, the results of a new study argue that these short workouts might even improve your memory — you know, so you'll actually remember to set seven back-up alarms the next time you plan ahead for an early-morning sweat session.

The new study, which has been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that setting aside just 10 minutes for a light workout can help your brain tell the difference between similar memories, not to mention improve communication between various parts of the brain.

For the study, researchers from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and Japan's University of Tsukuba studied the brain activity of 36 healthy young adults shortly after they did 10 minutes of light exercise (such as slow walking, yoga, or tai chi), ScienceDaily reports. In order to assess how the exercise affected their memory, the volunteers were initially shown pictures of everyday objects and were later asked, after working out, to recall some of those same images, according to The Guardian. The researchers ultimately discovered that these quick workouts significantly improved neural communication between a person's hippocampus (aka the part of the brain that stores memories) and the cortical regions of the brain (which, per The Guardian, help you vividly recall memories).

So, if you take away anything from this research, it should be that a little goes a long way, and that you deserve to congratulate yourself on committing to healthy movement of any kind, because clearly, even the small things add up in the long run. Michael Yassa, an author of the study, UCI professor, and chancellor's fellow of neurobiology and behavior, said in a statement,

It's encouraging to see more people keeping track of their exercise habits — by monitoring the number of steps they're taking, for example. Even short walking breaks throughout the day may have considerable effects on improving memory and cognition.

Of course, this isn't to say you should never try to make your workouts a little longer. If you have the time, and it makes you happy, there's nothing wrong with spending an entire hour at the gym. But, on those days when you barely even have time to take the steps instead of the elevator, there are definitely a few 10-minute workouts you can do that'll get your heart pumping and, as this new study shows, boost your brain power, too. Selena Watkins and Bakari Williams, who are both certified personal trainers and founding instructors at Studio, have shared a couple of short workout circuits with Elite Daily that'll leave you feeling sweaty and accomplished in just 10 minutes.

Leg Day Doesn't Have To Take A Long Time

For this circuit, according to Watkins and Williams, you should perform 45 seconds of each of these exercises: squat thrusts, sit-ups, squat jacks, and side plank dips (45 seconds on both sides of the body). Be sure to take 15 seconds of rest between each exercise, the trainers tell Elite Daily; then, Watkins says, take a 30-second rest before you repeat the above circuit one more time.

Finish things off with three minutes total of 10 mountain climbers and 10 bicycle crunches, alternating between the two until your three minutes are up.

If You're In A Crunch, Try A Quick Core Circuit

For this one, the trainers tell Elite Daily, do two rounds of these workouts: jumping jacks, a forearm plank, jack knife sit-ups, Russian twists, and up-downs. Work your hardest for 45 seconds per exercise, and rest for 15 seconds in between.