As a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast, I often see the parallels between solving a puzzle and sports performance. Both require focus, determination, and the ability to overcome obstacles. So, I was intrigued when I heard about ASICS' 'Mind Games: The Experiment' documentary. The experiment, based on the brand's corporate slogan "anima sana in corpore sano" meaning "a sound mind in a sound body," explores the connection between physical exercise and cognitive performance through a series of experiments and tests on "mind athletes".
What was the study in Mind Games: The Experiment?
'Mind Games: The Experiment' showcases the journey of four world class competitive mind gamers - Kassa Korley, a chess master, Ryoei Hirano, a high-level Mahjong player, Sherry Nhan, a professional Street Fighter gamer, and Ben Pridmore, a memory game competitor - as they integrate physical fitness into their training routines, to understand how their physical performance affects their mindset and gaming performance. After four months, each mind athlete enters a tournament or contest to test their skills.
The goal of the experiment is to raise awareness about the importance of physical exercise on mental performance and to provide insights and tips to help mind athletes improve their game.
The study was led by renowned researcher Professor Brendon Stubbs, an expert in movement and the mind. The sports program was created by international coach Andrew Kastor, a former runner, and included medium-impact cardio and strength training to help the gamers increase their exercise levels to 150 minutes per week. Throughout the four-month research period, Professor Stubbs closely monitored the mental progress of the participants by assessing their performance in mind games, cognitive tests, and wellbeing questionnaires.
"We all know that exercise is good for our mental and physical health but the impact on cognitive functioning has been less explored. We wanted to examine the effects of exercise on people who depend on their cognitive abilities - competitive mind gamers."
Can exercise sharpen the brightest minds? The results are in.
The groundbreaking global study has revealed that inactive gamers who increased their exercise levels experienced a significant improvement in cognitive function, overall well-being, and gaming performance. The experiment revealed:
Participant's confidence levels increased by 44%
Concentration levels increased by 33%
Cognitive function increased by 10%
Anxiety levels decreased by 43%
Commenting on the results, Professor Brendon Stubbs said:
"Our results show significant improvements in their cognitive functioning, 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 problem solve quickly. If exercise can significantly increase the mental performance of professional mind gamers, imagine what it could do for the rest of us. From increasing focus when revising for an exam or improving alertness before a work presentation, exercise truly can enhance brain power.”
The study was then expanded to include many other mind game athletes, with overwhelmingly positive results.
We now know that the mind-body connection is crucial when it comes to problem-solving and overcoming challenges. Whether it's a complex jigsaw puzzle or a competitive sport, having the right mindset can make all the difference. I believe that the insights and tips shared through this documentary will be valuable not only for mind athletes, but for puzzlers too.
Unlock the secrets of physical fitness on cognitive functioning with 'Mind Games: The Experiment', now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The documentary is narrated by renowned actor and mental health advocate Stephen Fry, and delves deep into the connection between mental and physical performance in sports. To gain more knowledge on this fascinating documentary and the science behind it, visit the ASICS website.
I hope that the study will inspire others to focus on their physical training, just as much as their mental preparation.
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Are jigsaw puzzles considered mind games?
Jigsaw puzzles are considered mind games because they are activities that challenge the brain and require mental focus and problem-solving skills. They have been shown to have cognitive benefits such as improving memory, attention, and spatial reasoning. Additionally, solving jigsaw puzzles can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and keep the brain active.