Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Knowledge Addicts: Breaking a Sweat Gives You a Bangin' Brain

Knowledge Addicts

Today's does of knowledge comes from good ole' New York Times.........which also keeps telling me I only have one more free article that I can view.  I'm not down with putting a price on my intellectual development.  That's disrespectful!  Anywhos.....

Title: How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain

MGD getting a bangin' brain
MGD breaking a sweat

It ain't nothin new!  We all know exercise is good for us and we should do it.  It heightens feelings of well-being, increases blood circulation, helps maintain a healthy weight, decreases our risk of depression, etcetera, etcetera, etcerteraaaa (.......If you've ever seen the King and I).  Buuuuuut did we ever consider how it could massively enhance our brain power.  We are always trying to find ways to become smarter but did we ever think the answer could possibly lie in a pound of weights rather than a pile of books.  Don't get me wrong because you know I am all about the books but this article provides reason that "exercise does more thinking than thinking does."  

Recent studies have been highlighting this fact.  Author and physician, John Ratey, has even dedicated his career to proving the impact of exercise on your well-being and has consolidated all his findings in a book called Spark.  "Think of exercise as medicine", he says.

In a particularly convincing study showcased in the article, a team of researchers from the University of Illinois compared the cognitive abilities of four groups of rats placed in four different living arrangements.  The first arrangement could be considered rat resort heaven as it was decked out with all sorts of goodies.  All access to nuts, fruits and cheese of your choice as well as colorful plastic igloos, neon-colored balls, mirrors and seesaws.  I doubt the rats were that hype about it.  From what I've seen, a running wheel trumps all of that any day.  

The second arrangement had the same thing but included running wheels.  See, now they're hype!  

The third arrangement is kinda sad.  The poor babies only had standard kibble.  

The fourth arrangement had running wheels but excluded the posh scenario I described previously.  The animals completed cognitive tests at the beginning and ending of the study and researchers examined changes in brain tissue.  

So what happened? Borrowing a quote from the article, it says:

"'Only one thing mattered', Rhodes says, 'and that's whether they had a running wheel'.  Animals that exercised whether or not they had any other enrichments in their cages, had healthier brains and performed significantly better on cognitive tests than other mice.  Animals that didn't run no matter how enriched their world was otherwise, did not improve their brainpower, in the complex lasting ways Rhodes was studying.  'They loved the toys', Rhodes says, and the mice rarely ventured into the empty, quieter portions of their cages.  But unless they also exercised, they did not become smarter."

Now check this out!  The article says that like any tissue or organ in the body, the brain declines with underuse and age and that once we jump the hurdle of age 20, we begin to lose 1% of our hippocampus every year.  This particular part of the brain is related to memory and learning. Exercise prevents this decline by jumpstarting neurogenesis meaning it initiates the production of new brain cells meaning you start making more neural connections meaning you get smarter. Bam!  

What's the takeaway:  Gyming it will make you the next Albert Einstein!

If you combine it with some bangin' bird food, you will probably enter the super human realm.  

Please do check out this article in full.

Knowledge is MOST DEFINITELY power and I want you to have it.

Thank you for reading.  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy.  Ciao!

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