New study suggests running helps your gaming

Have you ever wondered why your gaming keeps getting in the way of your running? Could it be because running makes you good at it? Asics, the Japanese sporting brand, invited 77 competitive gamers from around the world who specialize in games that rely on their cognitive function, such as chess, poker and e-sports, to begin a physical training program–and they found some surprising results.

The study was carried out over a four-month period, as of the 77 study subjects followed a training program designed by international runner-turned-coach Andrew Kastor (husband of Olympic medallist Deena Kastor), which included 150 minutes per week of medium-impact strength and run-based training.

Renowned mind and movement researcher Brendon Stubbs of King’s College in London led the experiment, measuring the mental improvement of participants based on their performance on brain games, cognitive tests and well-being questionnaires over the course of the study.

Stubbs found that after found months, the previously inactive gamers increased their cognitive function, well-being and gaming performance. “The results show significant improvements in their cognitive functioning, including concentration levels and problem-solving abilities,” Stubbs reported.

Participants’ international gaming ratings improved by 75 per cent 

Mental gamers’ cognitive function was boosted by an average of 10 per cent, with problem-solving skills improved by nine per cent, short-term memory increased by 12 per cent, and processing speed and alertness improved by 10 per cent. 

Confidence levels increased by 44 per cent. 

Focus improved 33 per cent and anxiety levels plummeted by 43 per cent 

Players’ mental well-being was significantly better, with average mental state scores improving by 31 per cent 

We all know that running is good for our mental and physical health, but the impact on acquiring information has been less well explored. The goal of the study was to examine the effects running has on people who depend on their cognitive abilities (like competitive gamers).

“Running stimulates cell growth in the brain and rapidly increases blood flow to the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, mechanisms that enable us to better retain memories, process information, and problem solve quickly,” said Stubbs. “If running can significantly increase the mental performance of professional mind gamers, imagine what it could do for the rest of us.”

Inspired by the experiment, a camera crew followed four of the 77 competitive gamers as they exercised regularly to improve their (gaming) rankings.

The documentary, called Mind Games: The Experiment, documents the journeys of four gamers who specialize in chess, mahjong, poker and e-sports while competing in professional tournaments around the world. The documentary is currently available on Amazon Prime Video.

posted Saturday January 28th
by Running magazine