Friday, June 25, 2010

Smarter Cardio

remember this shirt?? yup-totally stole it from my dad!
During finals period, my favorite activity becomes studying notes while on the elliptical or reclined bike at the gym. While probably not the greatest workouts I have ever had, they make me feel better about life, in that I am getting a bit of a workout, and not taking too big of a break from studying. Plus, I hate just sitting and re-reading notes, and would rather being moving!
So it was to my delight when I was resting my eyes from memorizing MNT and Exercise Phys to browse through the March edition of Women's Health. And what do I find? Low and behold an article about Cardiovascular health making you smarter!
"Cardiovascular health is more important than any other single factor in preserving and improving learning and memory.You're working out your brain at the same time as your heart" Dr. Thomas Cross, memory researcher.
While I knew this from experience, it was great to see it backed up by science. Exercise brings extra blood to your brain cells, getting more oxygen and glucose that it needs to function optimally. Exercise also releases hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, boosting your mood, and increasing attention. An interesting study was done on people who exercise for 1 hr per day, 3x week for six months. Researchers found an increase in their hippocampal size, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. After only 6 months, the participants were able to preform concentration and recall tasks better. I know there's nothing better than a run in the morning to really wake me up and get me started on my day. Who needs caffeine when you have endorphins and sunshine??
"Exercise improves attention, memory, accuracy, and how quickly you process information, all of which helps you make smarter decisions." -Dr. Charles Hillman, professor of kinesiology.

Released this month, a study presented by the American College of Sports Medicine showed higher grade point averages (GPA) among undergraduates who more often engaged in at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity.

“While the link between physical activity and academic achievement is well established for elementary and middle-school students, this has been less studied among college students,” said Joshua Ode, Ph.D., who supervised the study. “We documented a positive association between vigorous activity and GPA.”

So get out there, and get exercising, you smartie!

How often do you exercise? Do you notice a reduction in stress and increase mood/concentration because of exercise?


Kara said...

great post! i absolutely notice a difference when i jump off the exercise bandwagon! the stress creeps up on me and i don't have as much positive energy. those sort of feelings though are motivation for me to get back into it!

landanimal said...

that's a great tshirt! lol i want it!

Lori said...

I used to study that same way. Always flipping through notes on the elliptical and bike. Way back in high school one of my teachers told us to move around while we studied because it helped you retain more information. Whether it had scientific basis or not, I don't know, but it stuck with me.