Running barefoot improves memory more than running with shoes on, a new study finds.
The benefits may come from the extra demands placed on the brain while barefoot running.
For example, you have to avoid stones and anything else that may damage your feet.
The type of memory tested in the study is called ‘working memory’.
The brain uses working memory to recall and process information.
Dr Tracy Alloway, the study’s first author, said:
“Working memory is increasingly recognized as a crucial cognitive skill, and these findings are great news for people looking for a fun way to boost their working memory.”
The study had 72 people running either barefoot of with shoes for about 15 minutes.
People ran at whatever pace was comfortable with them.
Memory tests afterwards showed that those running barefoot scored 16% better on working memory tests.
Dr Alloway continued:
“The little things often have the greatest impact.
This research shows us that we can realize our cognitive potential and enjoy ourselves at the same time.
If we take off our shoes and go for a run, we can finish smarter than when we started.”
The study was published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills (Alloway et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Barefoot image from Shutterstock