Research Shows Exercise Improves Brain Function

exercise improves brain function intelligence smarter“Conventional wisdom had long held that animal (and human) brains weren’t malleable: after a brief window early in life, the brain could no longer grow or renew itself. The supply of neurons — the brain cells that enable us to think — was believed to be fixed almost from birth. As the cells died through aging, mental function declined. The damage couldn’t be staved off or repaired.”

However, last week the New York Times published an article detailing a series of research studies that make a very compelling case that exercise improves brain function. 

One study involved what amounts to an I.Q. test for mice where one group of mice was given running wheels in their cages and peformed significantly better than the group that was not given running wheels. 

Earlier this year neuroscientists at Columbia University found that people in their study who exercised for one hour four times a week had twice the blood flow to the hippocampus which is related to memory.  “The subjects showed significant improvements in memory, as measured by a word-recall test. Those with the biggest increases in VO2 max had the best scores of all.”

Another study done at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana showed that a group of elderly people who walked for an hour three times a week showed significant growth in several areas of the brain as revealed by MRIs compared with a group that did not walk.

It’s unclear to researchers exactly why exercise improves intelligence – several theories are currently being explored – but the evidence appears rather compelling that it does.

Read the article: Lobes of Steel

2 Responses to “Research Shows Exercise Improves Brain Function”

  1. As a home school teacher, these articles really have been encouraging me to allow my 7th grader to hang out in the back yard playing with her dogs a little longer before we begin our lessons. I used to get stressed out, because frankly to me, it felt like she was stalling!

    After researching increased focusing/exercise/natural brain boost this morning I came across several sites commenting about the facts listed above. (and also on the Unified Lifestyle site and its podcast). Toss me a msg if you need the address.

    Thank you for this story.

    • Thanks Leslie! I’ve also observed that for my son, sometimes he just has too much energy to concentrate. We let him run around outside for a while and when he comes back in he’s usually calmer a more focused.

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