As a community, we spend untold amounts of money on software and games to train our brains. We’ve long known that exercise helps various neurological functions; now science says perhaps all you need is a pill.
Friends and loved ones often ask me about jogging. I tell everyone that if you want to look like a distance runner, jog. However, if you desire a muscular, toned or athletic look, sprint. I may be correct, but if you heed my advice, you may not be as smart. I kid, but stay with me. From Forbes:
What this boils down to in practice is that regular endurance exercise, like jogging, strengthens and grows your brain.
For a period of several years, I was pounding the road regularly. I’d get out there and run at a slow and steady pace for 25 miles a week, give or take a few. I lost some lean tissue on my physique, but may have built some in my noggin.
In particular, your memory and ability to learn get a boost from hitting the pavement. Along with the other well-established benefits of endurance exercise, such as improved heart health, this is a pretty good reason to get moving. If jogging isn’t your thing, there’s a multitude of other ways to trigger the endurance effect – even brisk walking on a regular basis yields brain benefits.
And all this time I thought my forgetting names was just me getting old. Luckily, resistance training offers some of its own benefits. From the University of New Mexico:
Executive function is the ‘command and control’ conductor of cognitive skills. This brain control center is what manages all of the tasks in a person’s life, such as writing an article, doing a research project, preparing for class and organizing a trip…Uniquely, one of the most profound effects of resistance training is the marked improvement in memory and memory-related tasks. Additionally, it appears that improved executive functioning is one of the major benefits from resistance training (Anmderson-Hanley, Nimon and Westen, 2010) as well as cardiovascular exercise (Colcombe and Framer, 2003).
So perhaps I only have myself to blame for my memory lapses. New news suggests that maybe I don’t have to bother with the exercising at all, however. Arghhh. From the same Forbes article:
Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have also discovered that it may be possible to capture these benefits in a pill. The same protein that stimulates brain growth via exercise could potentially be bottled and given to patients experiencing cognitive decline, including those in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Bitchin’. Another short cut. This pill may cause nausea, dry skin and loss of brain cells. Seems logical.
What was your name again?