A new study has found that when people try to cycle and complete a task that required thought, their speed actually improved while multi-tasking.
Study after study has shown that no matter how good you think you are at multitasking, trying to do two things at once actually causes you to do both things worse.
Whats worse? The gym might be the worst place to try it.
As it turns out, there’s one exception to the rule: multitasking on a stationery bike.
A new University of Florida study has found that when people try to cycle and complete a task that required thought, their speed actually improved while multi-tasking.
Researchers looked at people with Parkinson's disease and healthy older adults and found that, while the Parkinson's group cycled slower, the healthy group actually cycled about 25 percent faster while doing the easiest cognitive tasks.
They became slower as the mental effort became more difficult, but this speed wasn’t any slower than when they started, distraction-free.
The findings also hold true for younger cyclists, as previous research from the same team found a multitasking benefit on spinning college students.
But cycling while distracted actually gets better with age, as older adults saw more of an improvement in their speed, says study co-author Lori Altmann, Ph.D.
Interestingly, the results don’t hold true on an elliptical or treadmill.
“Cycling is a lot easier than walking because you don’t have to manage balance demands since you’re sitting, and you don’t have to move your feet independently,” explains Altmann.
“When you cycle, the pedals also cue you when to move and how much to move, so it's much easier.”
It’s the combination of these easy, guided movements specific to a bike and easier tasks that allows you to get the most out of multitasking.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your favourite hard back and hits those bikes.