From The Straits Times    |

Image: Getty

How long do you spend on a task before switching to another tab? In 2012, a University of California study found that we spend 75 seconds on average focusing on a task. A recent update found that this number has since been reduced to a grand totality of 44 seconds – still more than the goldfish with an attention span of nine seconds, but the drop appears alarming.

Do you have the attention span of a goldfish? Image: 123rf

So how can we make sure that we don’t become even more ill-focused? Research has shown that physical activity can train our cognitive processes, and it’s a technique the world’s elite athletes swear by. 

Singapore-based brain-fitness gym Spark’d is unlike any other gym you’ve been to. Yes, there’s a treadmill, but instead of the usual incline, it moves around in unpredictable directions, forcing you to focus on the workout.

Each equipment features technologies that are designed to enhance our brain power. CEO and founder Anna Milani explains, “Cognitive motor training works such that participants do a physical and a cognitive task at the same time. 

“For example they could be doing a training drill while balancing on a moving platform, calculating equations while doing squats, or throwing balls at a wall in response to geography questions. Recent studies suggest that the combination of the two, also called dual tasking, creates more neuroplasticity.”  

This leads to better “processing speed, reaction time, attention, focus, decision making and mental resilience”. 

For athletes, heightened cognitive function and split-second reactions can determine the colour of their medal – gold or silver. And for the rest of us? It might just mean being able to concentrate on a task for a solid 75 seconds, without fighting the urge to reach for our phones.