The study was conducted at the University of Illinois by Dr. Neha Gothe, now the professor of kinesiology at Wayne State University in Detroit and Professor Edward McAuley, currently the director of Exercise Psychology at the University of Illinois. 30 undergraduate students were subjected to two different forms of exercise and tested for mental and cognitive skills after each exercise regimen.
Each individual participating in the study was tested after both 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise using a treadmill, walking or jogging at a pace to bring the subject from 60 to 70 percent of their target heart rate. The second exercise regimen consisted of a 20 minute yoga class which included isometric contractions and releases of muscle groups all while regulating breath control and ending in a brief meditation.
The results were predictably amazing, showing yoga as the winner, with improvements in cognitive skills as well as working memory function and increased reaction times.
However incredible this research may seem, it’s interesting to note that this is not the first study of the positive effects that Yoga has on the brain. In years past, yoga and meditation have been studied extensively and found to improve mental cognition, lower blood pressure, decrease stress hormones and lower your odds of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Now, recent scientific studies have shown that these ancient practices actually increase neuroplasticity in the brain by releasing neurotransmitters, re-routing neuro-pathways and increasing the density of the gray matter that is lost with decreased hormone secretion as we age.
If you are interested in learning more about the true benefits of yoga and meditation and how to implement them into your workout program contact us! We’d love to help you out and your brain will certainly thank you for it.