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This Is Your Brain On Exercise: How Exercise Helps Your Mental Fitness
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This is Your Brain on Exercise: How Exercise Helps Your Mental Fitness

A number of studies have revealed how important exercise is to your mental health and brain function, including memory and learning skills. The first, by researchers at Dartmouth College found that exercise boosted brain derived neurotropic factor also called BDNF, which helped with memory tests in certain groups. Michael Hopkins, the leader of this study, divided young men into four groups. Each of the men was given a set of memory challenges as well as a mental health survey meant to determine their baseline status at the start of the study.

Group one was asked to exercise every day for four weeks, including the final day of the study. On that day, the participants were given another series of tests. Group two also exercised every day for four weeks but did not exercise on the final day. Group three only exercised for one day during the study and was given a test on the same day. The final group did not exercise at all during the study. For the study, exercise was defined as a moderately paced walk.

Researchers compared the scores from all four groups against their baseline scores and found that the first group performed better on all of the memory tests as well as showing a bigger boost in BDNF. Group two also had a slight increase in scores and BDNF. Neither of the other two groups had an increase at all. Hopkins concluded that regular exercise is better than intermittent, intense exercise.

In another study, the University of Illinois researchers found that moderate walking at least three times a week had a number of positive brain benefits, including better performance on a number of cognitive function tests, improved brain circuits and a minimizing of the decline in brain function. The study, published in the journal, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, found that adults who were part of either a walking group or a stretching group were more likely to have increased brain activity even if they had been sedentary before. The study, focused on sixty five adults between the ages of 59 and 80. Another group were studied in regards to brain activity and exercise. That group, all ages 18-35 also had significant improvements in their cognitive function after they were asked to start or increase exercise routines.

Exercise, including moderately paced walking, is thought to improve brain function because it increases turnover in cells and keeps blood flowing. Sedentary people, on the other hand are more likely to also have poor eating habits and may also have other mental or physical problems that may affect memory and other cognitive functions.

Street Talk

It makes sense. If you are doing things that make you feel better about yourself, you will preform better all around.

  about 1 decade ago
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