A new documentary has revealed the groundbreaking findings of a unique experiment exploring whether exercise can sharpen the brilliant minds of competitive gamers.
The Prime Video documentary, Mind Games: The Experiment, saw a number of high-profile gamers work fitness into their training regimes for four months.
Among those featured in the film are Danish international chess master Kasa Corley, mahjong player Ryoei Hirano from Tokyo, professional Street Fighter player Sherry Nahan from California and memory game competitor Ben Pridmore from Derby.
The trial revealed that exercise can significantly improve cognitive function and enhance mental performance.
The groundbreaking results of a unique experiment exploring whether exercise can sharpen the brightest minds of competitive players are revealed in a new documentary, Mind Games: The Experiment (photographed by international chess master Danish Casa-Corley)
Each player followed a training program designed by runner-turned-international coach, Andrew Castor.
The program included medium-impact cardio and strength training and increased the players’ exercise levels to 150 minutes per week.
After four months of training, each Mind Game athlete entered a competition to test whether their mental strength had improved.
Professor Brendon Stubbs, a renowned researcher of movement and the mind, developed and led the experiment.
Prime Video Documentary, Mind Games: The Experiment, Explores the Connection Between Mental Performance and Physical Exercise (Professional Street Fighter player Sherri Nahan, CA)
Memory Games competitor Ben Pridmore, from Derby, has also worked fitness into his training regimen
It measured the participants’ mental improvement based on their performance on mind games, cognitive tests, and well-being questionnaires over the course of the four-month research period.
Professor Stubbs said: ‘We all know exercise is good for our mental and physical health, but the effect on cognitive performance has not been explored.
We wanted to study the effects of exercise on people who rely on their cognitive abilities – competitive mind game players.
Our results show significant improvements in their cognitive function, including concentration levels and problem-solving abilities.
Exercise 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 solve problems quickly.
High-level Mahjong is a tile-based game developed in the 19th century in China, and the player Ryoei Hirano from Tokyo increased his physical activity
If exercise can dramatically increase the mental performance of professional mind gamers, imagine what it can do for the rest of us.
“From increasing focus when revising for an exam or improving alertness before a job offer, exercise can really boost brain power.”
As well as showing that exercise improved participants’ cognitive function and gaming abilities, Professor Stubbs also found that the players’ mental well-being was significantly improved, with an average state of mind score improving by 31 per cent.
The average mental state score of the players at the start of the study was a lower average of 58 and at the end was a high of 76, showing the significant impact that exercise can also have on your mental health.
Meanwhile, problem-solving abilities improved by 9 percent, short-term memory increased by 12 percent, and processing speed and alertness improved by 10 percent.
Mind gamers with problem-solving abilities improved by 9 percent, short-term memory increased by 12 percent, and processing speed and alertness improved by 10 percent
The group’s confidence levels increased by 44 percent, focus improved by 33 percent, and anxiety levels decreased by 43 percent.
Research has shown that exercise can be just as effective in enhancing brain function as learning a second language, reading daily, playing a new musical instrument, or completing a puzzle every day.
Andrew, the study instructor, stated: “These results are amazing and speak volumes about the strength of the exercise.
Many players could not run longer than a minute at the start of the study, so their training programs should be moderate.
150 minutes a week sounds like a lot but when broken down it can be 5 sets of 30 minutes.
No matter your fitness levels, the mental benefits of exercise are available to everyone.