10 min of Exercise Improves Reaction Time

Do you struggle to get started on a fitness plan? And maybe it’s not for a lack of motivation but something else stands in your way.Maybe it could be an injury that needs to heal before you can push and challenge yourself? Or maybe it’s overcoming inertia? In other words it’s been so long since you’ve done something it feels overwhelming to consider starting. And for many people it could simply be a lack of time.

We’re all busy. And there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Obviously all the fit people out there are putting in multiple-hour workouts daily so what’s the point, right? I mean if you can’t find a few hours a week what kind of results can you really expect to achieve?

Well, quite a lot actually.

A recent study (1) looked at doing 10 minutes of exercise. One group rode a stationary bike for 10 minutes and the control group just sat for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes both groups performed a mental task that involved eye tracking. This allowed the researchers to measure how accurately the subjects performed the test as well as how quickly they reacted to a visual stimulus.

What they found is that riding the bike for 10 minutes at a moderate to vigourous pace resulted in a more accurate completion in the task and up to 50 ms faster reaction time. This might not seem like a big change in reaction time but it works out to a 14% improvement.

But that’s not the only interesting thing about this study.

Previously studies of this type had found similar results after studies of 24 weeks in duration while cycling for 20 minutes. This study was a single bout, not almost half a year, and involved a 10 minute ride on the bike.

This should be encouraging to the average person.

We don’t have to do be performing marathon training sessions, everyday, for an extended period of time. A single bout shows improvement in our reaction time.

But we should be clear that this study was looking at changes in performing a specific type of task and measuring reaction time. Not many people are walking through the door of their local fitness centre asking to improve their ability to perform anti saccade tasks and improve their reaction time.

As well, we need to be aware that if our goal is to do ironman triathlons or run marathons than 10 minutes of exercise won’t cut it.

That being said if you lack motivation to get started…

if you feel like you don’t have the time…

And if you wonder ‘what the point? I only have 10 minutes a day to commit to a program’, than you should know that you are making improvements.

Once you are in the habit of doing 10 minutes a day for weeks on end it won’t be any type of stretch to increase that to 15 minutes a day. Small, daily efforts like this will lead to substantial change by the end of 2018.


  1. Samani, Ashna and Heath, Matthew. Executive-related oculomotor control is improved following a 10-min single-bout of aerobic exercise: Evidence from the anti saccade task. Neuropsychologia. Volume 108, 8 January 2018, Pages 73–81.

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