You may want to stop running in a straight line and start zig-zagging instead. A new study from the Air Force Research Laboratory shows that agility training can improve your cognitive performance.

Military personnel were divided into two groups for six weeks of training. The first group participated in the military's standard physical training (jogging with calisthenics like jumping jacks and burpees), while the second group underwent agility training (ladder drills and shuttle runs). After six weeks, the first group increased their endurance. On the other hand, the group performing agility training improved their VO2 max, athletic footwork, memory, and concentration. (Be strong, energetic, and healthy like you were at 25.)

"Agility training incorporates components of learning, focus, balance, and coordination," says study coauthor Erica M. Johnson, Ph.D. This type of training can stimulate richer connections among multiple brain regions by demanding them to work together, she says.

Along with cognitive function, there are other benefits to agility training. "Adding variety to your exercise routine can help you avoid burnout and plateaus," she says. "Agility training may be another way to help you meet your exercise goals while keeping your mind and body active."

If it's tough to break away from your running routine or normal workouts, sprinkle in some footwork drills on days when you’re strength training. Watch the All-Pro Agility Challenge below so you can get your body--and your mind--going.

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