Short bouts of moderately intense exercise have been shown to boost self control across a number of studies looking into the impact on physical fitness on higher brain functions. Published studies include the effect of exercise on concentration, decision-making, memory and self-control and participants range from 6-35 years old.
The meta-analysis found that regular exercise appears to have very little impact on higher brain functions, but short bouts of exercise appeared to boost higher brain function for children, adolescents and adults. Self-control is an important attribute for success in social, academic and sporting settings and is particularly significant in weight management. Twelve of the studies analysed the effect of exercise on self control specifically and all results recorded showed a significant positive impact.
Scientists explain that the increased blood and oxygen flow to the pre-frontal cortex in the brain during exercise may be the reason behind these findings.
Verburgh L, Konigs M, Scherder EJA, Oosterlaan J, Physical Exercise and Executive Functions in Children, Adolescents and Adults: A Meta-Analysis, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2013.