Exercise--- it is a no brainer. You’ve heard all about improving your bodies by making exercise a part of your daily routine. Now a growing number of studies are showing that exercise also makes you smarter. Like I started out saying, it’s a no brainer…exercise and you’ll also be brainier since a strong mind is repeatedly being linked with aerobic exercise.
One recent study with children showed that the more physically fit children also had more brainpower. Another study showed that by putting subjects on a three-month aerobic workout, the brain was able to grow new nerve cells. Still other researchers have found that vigorous exercise can allow old nerve cells to interconnect and make the brain function faster and more efficiently. All of these findings can have a significant impact on people of all ages and they may also aid in the treatment of such illnesses as Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD and other cognitive disorders.
All of this may be explained by the basic principle of increased blood flow: aerobic exercise helps the heart pump more blood to the brain and to the rest of the body. More blood flow means more oxygen and better nourished cells. With more sophisticated tools, researchers are also adding a more complex rationale to explain the connection of exercise with higher levels of thought. In this process, it is shown that every time muscles contract, they release certain chemicals and proteins that travel to the brain. At the brain level, more chemicals are released including one that fuels thinking. With regular exercise, this chemical builds up, allowing the brain’s nerve cells to communicate with each other in new pathways. This is the basis for learning; each new pathway represents a new skill or fact.
Most adults maintain a fairly constant level of this chemical, but it becomes depleted with normal aging. Research on animals over the past decade has shown that this loss can be reversed with exercise and, for the first time, it has also been demonstrated with humans.
Exercise also yields immediate positive effects on thinking clarity. After a brisk 30-minute walk or jog, your brain will be sharper. But, to keep it that way, one must continue the regular exercise over a lifetime. The sooner you adopt exercise into your lifestyle, the better. Keep in mind, too, that a child’s developing brain is especially affected by exercise, and aerobic activity early in life can have a more long-lasting effect on these young brains. This may partly explain the mandatory physical education for all school-aged children. Think twice before allowing your child to skip gym class.
It doesn’t take scientific studies like the ones I’ve mentioned to clue us in to the fact that exercising has countless positive effects on our bodies and minds. We know it intuitively and we all feel better physically and mentally after a good workout. If it helps you to get motivated to exercise by learning about one additional benefit, becoming smarter, then all of the recent research is worth it. Exercise your heart, exercise your body and exercise your mind.
Conshohocken Physical Therapy is not an ordinary Physical Therapy clinic. We believe in changing your life. We are driven by the desire to make a positive impact, both personally and therapeutically, on every person who enters our office.
You will experience pain relief, improved motion and a greater quality of life. Our approach is friendly, evidence-based and innovative and our Doctors of Physical Therapy have the most specialized training in treating your body.
Learn more about Conshohocken Physical Therapy by visiting us online at www.conshypt.com.