Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. It is used as a therapeutic technique to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental focus and attention, and even to combat depression.
Any form of exercise improves mental health, however high intensity intervals appear to have the greatest benefits. HIIT exercise consists of alternating periods of intense exercise followed by a rest period. It leads to greater oxygen consumption and improved brain health.
Mental Health Benefits of HIIT
Increases oxygen to the brain
HIIT workout sessions are designed to increase oxygenation to the body. The high intensity intervals deprive mitochondria of oxygen. Mitochondria are energy generating cell structures. In the subsequent rest periods, when sufficient oxygen is available, mitochondria meet their demand by increasing oxygen consumption. Blood flow to the brain increases making it more active and aware.
Depression can have both mental and physical symptoms impacting quality of life. A HIIT workout routine aids the body in producing endorphins (happy hormones). Exercise causes the brain to secrete brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  Research shows the quantity of BDNF increases with high intensity workouts. These proteins help in the maturation and growth of neurons. They are also responsible for improving mood and memory.
Research shows that simple exercises like walking improve creativity. Physical activity activates brain cells and clears your thoughts, possibly leading to new ideas. Writers, photographers and other innovative professionals use exercise to increase concentration and create new inventions. Thus, mindfulness helps excel in a competitive, creative environment.
Improves cognitive function
Cognitive function constitutes learning and gaining knowledge. It encompasses reasoning, language, memory and any other functions related to acquiring information. Research shows that high intensity exercise helps in improving cognitive function as well as boost short term memory.
High intensity interval training increases mindfulness, aids in mental function, combats depression, and sparks creativity. High intensity exercise has countless other health benefits, many of which are discussed in prior posts.
Go to ShortRandomWorkout.com to find simple, body-weight exercises, that use the scientifically proven techniques of interval training.
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2. Oppezzo, Marily; Schwartz, Daniel L. Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 40(4), Jul 2014, 1142-1152. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036577
3. Alves CR, Tessaro VH, Teixeira LA, Murakava K, Roschel H, Gualano B, Takito MY. Influence of acute high-intensity aerobic interval exercise bout on selective attention and short-term memory tasks. Percept Mot Skills. 2014 Feb;118(1):63-72.