Running without shoes on has been found to boost cognitive performance, according to a study from the University of North Florida.
If you’re a keen jogger and looking for ways to boost your memory, you might want to leave your running shoes at the door and head out barefoot.
Researchers from the University of Florida (UNF) have discovered that people who ran barefoot saw more improvement in cognitive skills than those who wore shoes.
The UNF researchers enlisted 72 participants between the ages of 18 and 44, who ran both barefoot and wore shoes at a comfortable, self-selected pace for approximately 16 minutes. Working memory was measured before and after running.
The results of this research found a significant increase – approximately 16 percent – in working memory performance when doing barefoot-running.
It’s thought the improvement is caused because when running barefoot, you need to keep your eye out for potentially harmful objects and ensure you place your foot very precisely each time you step. Researchers believe being barefoot therefore requires a more intensive use of working memory because of the extra tactile and proprioceptive demands (when muscles and tendons react to external stimuli) of barefoot running. This in turn helps to boost memory power.
If you’re thinking of going barefoot running, be sure to think carefully about the best surfaces to ensure you don’t hurt your feet (or step in something…unpleasant). We recommend grassy areas in your local park or the beach!