A Neuroscientist’s 2-Minute Trick To Enhance Brain Health

“Prolonged sitting starves the brain of oxygenated blood flow,” Heisz explains, so for those of us who sit for a large chunk of the day, it’s important to regularly break up those periods of sedentariness with some kind of movement. Her recommended cadence: Every 30 minutes, get up and move for two minutes.

And if you’re able to add a little more time to your movement break, five minutes seems to do the trick. In fact, Heisz led a study that demonstrated the effects of exercise breaks during university lectures: “We had the students do five minutes of exercise—jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks—and we compared that to a break where they were just on their phones looking at social media, versus no break. The students who took the exercise break were able to stay focused on the lecture. They had less mind-wandering, and they were better able to remember that material later when they were tested.”

As for the type of movement, Heisz says you can do jumping jacks or burpees, if that’s available to you. But “it doesn’t have to be full-out,” she says. “It can just be a stretch, a walk around the block, just some sort of movement to get the body activated and the blood flowing.” That way, you can stimulate circulation and replenish your brain of those vital nutrients, leading to balanced energy, enhanced creativity, and a positive mood.

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