Exercise – Does It Make You Smarter?
It’s pretty common knowledge that exercise is a necessary part of a healthy life. By exercise is meant anything that puts the body to work in some way, from walking and yoga to more strenuous activities like running, weights training or racquet ball. Exercise keeps your heart and lungs healthy, improves bone and muscle strength and keeps body fat levels under control; the benefits are huge and undeniable. One of the lesser talked about benefits of exerciseis that it helps improve cognitive function – it helps you think and remember things better.
This is not a new concept. The ancient Greeks maintained that exercise made the mind more lucid. Aristotle had a habit of walking up and down (peripaton) the streets of the Lyceum in Athens while thinking or lecturing to his students and so started his “Peripatetic School” in 335B.C. Plato and Socrates also practiced the art of peripatetics. Many years later Albert Einstein, when asked how he came up with the theory of relativity blithely said, “I thought of that while riding my bike.”
How exercise improves thinking ability is a question that hasn’t fully been answered. Perhaps the mere fact of blood being circulated with greater speed to all parts of the body and so bringing more oxygen and nutrients has something to do with it. Perhaps it’s as simple as bodies actually enjoy being worked – a body is a machine after all and machines by definition help make work easier – so when they get their share of activity they possible quiet down and allow the mind some space with which to think.
The how and why are less important than the fact that exercise does help maintain a sharpness of the mind. Adults who adopt physically active lifestyles experience a delay in the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s as they age and exercise has been seen to reduce symptoms of dementia.
If you’re already exercising regularly, well done, and continue thinking well. If you’re still “thinking about” exercising one day, there’s no time like the present – put on a pair of walking shoes and start walking. Better yet, take a look at our recent workout video and follow along. See how you feel afterwards. May you be smarter, fitter, stronger and slimmer than ever before!