Saturday, March 12, 2011

Exercise = Brain Power (E=bp)

While most of us hit the weights hoping to increase muscle power, it turns out we're exercising our brains too! Did you know that Albert Einstein thought up the theory of relativity while riding his bike? Even Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates found benefit in doing their thinking while walking (1).

Coincidentally, the part of the brain that allows our body to perform exercise (the motor cortex) is located only a few millimeters from the portion that is responsible for thought and reason (the prefrontal cortex) (1). Studies monitoring the brain during moderate-exertion cycling showed increased activation of impulses in both areas, with the most cognitive benefits coming in the recovery period (2). There is also speculation that regular exercise has a cumulative effect on improved cognition (3).

So, the next time you are in need of a brain-power boost or really contemplating something important, hit the gym and sweat on it!

I now have to jump on the elliptical to try to recall what the theory of relativity actually is:)


1. Nieman, D. (2011). You asked for it: Question authority. ACSM's Healthy & Fitness Journal, 15 (1), 5-6.

2. Lambourne, K., Tomporowski, P. (2010). The effect of exercise-induced arousal on cognitive task performance: a meta-regression analysis. Brain Res, 1341, 12-24.

3. Yanagisawa, H., Dan, I., Tsuzuki, D. (2010). Acute moderate exercise elicits increased dorsolateral prefrontal activation and improves cognitive performance with Stroop test. Neuroimage, 50, 1702-1710.

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