6 Ways Exercise Makes You Smarter
If you think muscles are just for meatheads or gym rats think again! Did you know that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can make you a genius? Ok, you still might not become Einstein but you can get pretty close. Check out the 6 ways that working out can make you smarter:
1. Increases Energy
The more you move, the more energized you will feel. Regular physical activity improves your muscle strength and boosts your endurance, giving you the energy you need to think clearer and come up with new ideas. A good 15 minutes of moving around, even just around your living room, makes your body produce more energy on a cellular level.
2. Sharpens Focus
Dr. John Ratey, author of “Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” says that exercise improves your brain in the short term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterwards. If you have a presentation or speaking engagement try to work out beforehand; you’ll be at your peak when you have to perform. In the long term, it can even help starve off brain aging and Alzheimer’s. This works on the cellular level through neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to improve itself with blood flow and levels of brain-derived protein. He calls it “miracle-gro” for the brain, and it all comes from regular exercise!
3. Enhances Mood
Exercise releases endorphins, also known as nature’s mood elevator, which has been shown to improve memory. Exercise also releases serotonin, which improves mood and alleviates symptoms of depression, according to the Mayo Clinic. Duke University researchers proved that depressed adults who exercised regularly improved as much as those treated with the antidepressant Zoloft!
4. Helps Impulse Control
Exercise helps trigger endorphins, which improve the prioritizing functions of the brain. After exercise, your ability to sort out priorities improves, allowing you to block out distractions and better concentrate on the task at hand.
5. Improves Memory
Your brain remembers more when your body is active. In an experiment published in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, students were asked to memorize a string of letters, and were then allowed to run, lift weights, or sit quietly. The students who ran were quicker and more accurate when they were tested than students who chose the other two options.
6. Increases Productivity
Ever heard of “if you want something done, give it to a busy person?” It’s a proven fact that productivity begets more productivity. When we’re productive and efficient it propels us to succeed more. After exercising in the middle of the work day, workers are more likely to be kinder to their co-workers, increase their work performance and improve their time management. All these amount to a more productive day – all from a few minutes of exercise!
So what I’m saying is you don’t have to be a football star or a gold-medal gymnast. You just have to get your heart rate up for half an hour most days. We can all aim for that!
Jennifer Cohen, Contributor
I help executives & entrepreneurs boost productivity through wellness.