We've all climbed trees in our childhood and there are good reasons to relive those days again. Climbing trees and balancing on beams can improve cognitive skills not just in children but also in adults, according to researchers at the University of North Florida.
The results of the research suggest that working memory improvements can be made in just a couple of hours of these physical exercises.
Activities that make us think help us exercise our brains as well as our bodies.
"By taking a break to do activities that are unpredictable and require us to consciously adapt our movements, we can boost our working memory to perform better in the classroom and the boardroom," says research associate Dr Ross Alloway.
"Improving working memory can have a beneficial effect on so many areas in our life. It is exciting to see that 'proprioceptive dynamic activities' can enhance it in such a short period of time," adds study co-author Tracy Alloway.
For the study, which was published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, researchers recruit adults ages 18 to 59 and test their working memory.
Proprioception, the awareness of body positioning and orientation, is associated with working memory.
One group is given dynamic activities while the other are asked to join yoga classes, defined as "static proprioceptive activities".
The participants undertake activities like climbing trees, walking and crawling on a beam approximately three-inches wide, moving while paying attention to posture, running barefoot, navigating over, under and around obstacles, as well as lifting and carrying awkwardly-weighted objects.
After two hours, participants are tested again.
The researchers find that their working memory capacity has increased dramatically by 50%.
'Proprioceptively dynamic training' may place a greater demand on working memory because as environment and terrain changes, the individual recruits working memory to update information to adapt appropriately.
"Though the yoga control group engaged in activities that required awareness of body position, it was relatively static as they performed the yoga postures in a small space which did not allow for locomotion or navigation," the authors note.
However, neither control groups experience working memory benefits.
Read: Eight basic Yoga asanas to fix your mind, body and soul