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Exercise & Intelligence

Exercising for Mental Benefits

Exercising for Mental Benefits

How do you keep your mind sharp? Crossword puzzles, sudokus, brain teasers? How about exercise? According to recent claims, there’s one more reason why you should exercise: it makes you smarter!

Scientists have always suspected that exercise and brain function were somehow connected due to the fact that aerobic activity increases the level of blood being pumped through the body and brain. However, a recent study now shows that exercise has a more powerful effect on the brain than previously thought.

According to the study, a molecule called irsin is produced inside the brain whenever you exercise or train. Whenever the team increased the levels of irsin, they saw activation of genes involved in memory and learning as well as an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which activated genes in cognition. BDNF has been known to strengthen and grow neurons, which in turn offers you a greater capacity of cognitive ability.

Here’s a quick summary of how it works:

  • You go out for your weekly Zumba class (for example) and start exercising
  • Irsin is produced in your brain
  • An increase in irsin causes an increase in BDNF
  • Increasing BDNF promotes the generation of new neurons, makes neurons stronger, elevates mood, supports and strengthens synapses, and grows more neurons
  • You get smarter

Increasing irsin and BDNF is just one of the ways that exercise makes you smarter. There is also a ton of other ways that exercise helps improve cognition, including impulse control, and improving your memory. Exercise can help trigger endorphins, which helps you line up your priorities more efficiently and shut out potential distractions. It also can improve your memory. In an experiment published in the American College of Sports Medicine journal, it was concluded that the brain can remember more when the body is regularly active.

So, what do you take away from this? Not only does exercising make you smarter, it also has the ability to sharpen your focus, increase the amount of energy you have, and enhance your mood. If you’re feeling lethargic at work, get up and take a quick walk around your building. This will help you refresh and refocus. It also can help you have a more productive day, be nicer to coworkers, and improve your time management! Are you sold yet? We know we are.