Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can Exercise Make You Smarter

One way I stay on top of current literature is through my phone and subscribing to numerous blogs and news sites. I usually share the most interesting articles I find over on the right hand side of my blog (over there >>>>>> [in the navy blue box]). If you look through that list you will often see a new study supporting some benefit of exercise. Ben Braxley, one of the elite New Professionals in the field, was kind enough to forward me this NY Times article along the same lines:

Phys Ed: What Sort of Exercise Can Make You Smarter?

It is a quick read summarizing one main study and a few others that support exercise as a brain booster.
“It would be fair to say that any form of regular exercise,” he says, if it is aerobic, “should be able to maintain or even increase our brain functions.”

Why should exercise need to be aerobic to affect the brain? “It appears that various growth factors must be carried from the periphery of the body into the brain to start a molecular cascade there,” creating new neurons and brain connections, says Henriette van Praag, an investigator in the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging. For that to happen, “you need a fairly dramatic change in blood flow,” like the one that occurs when you run or cycle or swim. Weight lifting, on the other hand, stimulates the production of “growth factors in the muscles that stay in the muscles and aren’t transported to the brain,” van Praag says.

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