If you want your mind to be sharper, the evidence suggests you should visit the gym. But how can exercising your muscles boost your brain power?
We tend to assume that brains don’t go with brawn – but that assumption is turning out to be seriously flawed. As the latest video from the Head Squeeze team shows, exercising the body is one of the best ways to boost your intelligence and preserve it through old age.
Consider this: one German study found that older people who enjoy mild exercise – such as gardening – are half as likely to suffer from cognitive impairment as they age. Another experiment found that pensioners asked to take a leisurely walk a few times a week scored better on attention and memory tests. But it’s not just older people: children who walk to school tend to concentrate better and get better test results than those given lifts in the car.
One possible reason is that the exercise boosts the blood (and therefore oxygen) supply to the brain – which helps give it the energy to think. It might also promote the growth of neurons and perhaps encourage the release of certain neurotransmitters and growth hormones that are crucial to the brain’s overall health. All of which could contribute to better concentration and memory.
In the future, some researchers are looking into specially designed “exergames” that incorporate physical activity with cognitive training to give your brain the best possible workout; early results suggest that the sum is greater than the individual parts. In the meantime, the work should at least give you one more reason not to put off that visit to the gym.