If you want to boost your brain function, you might want to head to the gym for a bit. A study of three dozen healthy adults showed that even ten minutes of moderate physical activity can have measurable benefits for the brain (PNAS, Sept. 24, 2018).
Ten Minutes of Motion to Boost Your Brain:
The scientists used high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging to look at the volunteers’ brain activity before and after short exercise sessions. They found that after the workouts, the subjects’ brains had changed somewhat. They showed stronger connections between the hippocampal dentate gyrus and parts of the cerebral cortex that are important for processing memory. Consequently, the researchers are excited about this evidence that exercise improves the function of the hippocampus, which is a crucial area for memory.
Fit Kids Have Fit Brains:
Previous research has shown links between physical fitness and cognitive skills in young people. Moderate exercise even helps kids think better for several hours.
Another study showed a link between fitness and brain structure (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Aug. 19, 2014). Brain scans of 24 youngsters nine to ten years old showed that those who were more fit had more white matter integrity, hinting that their brains might have better connectivity. That could, in theory, help them with memory and learning.
The research didn’t actually show whether exercise boosts brainpower or being sedentary saps it. For that, investigators will have to conduct controlled trials of structured physical activity at recess and after school.
Remember Grandma’s admonition in the old days was “Go out and play!” It seems that far too few kids actually get that opportunity these days. This research suggests we should find ways to make it far easier for kids (and their parents and grandparents) to get aerobic exercise. Even a little bit can help.