How Running Barefoot Improves Memory

Sarah Health, Lifestyle

Certain lifestyle choices, including those that challenge the brain, can make you feel and look years younger than your chronological age. When you perform tasks that require learning, comprehension and reasoning, you are using your working memory. Your working memory is what allows you to retain relevant information in your brain while you do something else. It’s something you will use throughout your life and also gets harder to tap as your brain ages. If you can improve your working memory, it can help you perform better in various areas of your life from school to the workforce to your years of retirement.

People often associate the importance of cognitive development for babies and children.  Adults tend to not be as concerned with finding ways to further develop themselves cognitively, but they should. Studies show that reduced cognitive function can cause people to age prematurely and even reduce lifespan.  People who have advanced stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease don’t live as long as people who are free from cognitive impairments.

Things like playing games with friends, sustained physical activity and reading are all effective ways to boost your cognitive fitness and longevity.

Did you know that running barefoot improves memory too?

The Research

Researchers from the University of North Florida measured the working memory of 72 participants between the ages of 18 and 44 before and after running. The volunteers ran barefoot and again wearing shoes at a self-selected, comfortable pace.  The results found a notable increase in working memory performance in those who ran barefoot.

One reason why running barefoot offers cognitive benefits is that people have to avoid stepping on objects that may cause pain and are required to use more precise foot placement during the run if they are barefoot. When not wearing shoes to protect the feet and running barefoot, it requires a more intensive use of working memory due to the extra tactile and proprioceptive demands.

Working memory is recognized as an essential cognitive skill for people of all ages and stages of life, so the news about the benefits of running without shoes is great for those who want to boost their working memory. Of course, there are other health considerations to take into account – like foot and ankle safety, as well as safety from the elements on the surface where you run. Running barefoot may not, actually, be a good fit for everyone but the findings of this study can be extrapolated to other areas of life where tasks with a pointed focus can be implemented for better memory.

Whether you are analyzing a situation or making impromptu remarks, your ability to think about and process multiple pieces of information nearly instantly and effectively is a vital skill to have. Exercise is long known as a way you can improve cognitive function because it boosts blood flow to the part of the brain that is responsible for memory.

It’s no secret that exercise such as aerobics are good for things from better heart health to weight control – aerobic exercise helps prevent migraines even. Studies have also shown that mental exercises such as playing card games with friends or memory games like Scrabble improve cognitive function as you age. It’s important to keep your mind sharp – especially later in life. Studies are continuing to show the benefits of running barefoot to keep your mind share, in addition to memory exercises and game.