I was flipping through a magazine on a recent hot summer day and low and behold I came across an article about cardiovascular health making you smarter! What’s that? A healthy heart can make a healthy brain? Tell me more.
Typically when you think of exercise, you’re probably thinking calorie burn. But don’t be so short-sighted. Exercise has many benefits and I guess we can add “memory improvement” to the list.
“Cardiovascular health is more important than any other single factor in preserving and improving learning and memory. You’re working out your brain at the same time as your heart,” said Dr. Thomas Cross, memory researcher.
Exercise brings extra blood to your brain cells, getting more oxygen and glucose that it needs to function optimally. Exercise also releases hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, boosting your mood, and increasing attention. Exercise can also help you fight off depression.
An interesting study was done on people who exercise for one hour a day, three times a week for six months. Researchers found an increase in their hippocampal size, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. After only six months, the participants were able to preform concentration and recall tasks better. I know there’s nothing better than a run in the morning to really wake me up and get me started on my day. Who needs caffeine when you have endorphins and sunshine?
“Exercise improves attention, memory, accuracy, and how quickly you process information, all of which helps you make smarter decisions,” said Dr. Charles Hillman, professor of kinesiology.
A study presented by the American College of Sports Medicine showed higher grade point averages (GPA) among undergraduates who more often engaged in at least 20 minutes of daily vigorous physical activity.
“While the link between physical activity and academic achievement is well established for elementary and middle-school students, this has been less studied among college students,” said Joshua Ode, Ph.D., who supervised the study. “We documented a positive association between vigorous activity and GPA.”
So, get out there and get exercising, for your smarts!
July 2nd, 2010