All those long hours spent prepping for your next triathlon may be benefiting your body and your mind according to the latest research. In fact, getting that blood pumping may do more to enhance your cognitive abilities than cognition itself.
A recent study of mice found that when the researchers controlled for physical activity (running on a wheel — mouse treadmill), and mentally enriched environments the physical activity made for smarter mice.
“Only one thing had 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 the 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 that Rhodes’s team was studying.
So, next time you’re trying to cram for a test or finish that tight deadline, maybe you really should go for a run instead! Honestly though, who hasn’t felt a little more mental clarity when you have regular exercise as part of your life — I certainly do.
Read the full article on the NY Times here.
And, here’s a related article from the same study about how learning and “reward seeking” (addiction) may be enhanced by exercise. That one probably explains some of my training partner’s obsessions with Honey Stingers.