You know that exercise is good for your body, but did you know it can actually make you smarter as well? We've mentioned the topic in brief before, but new research shows that it's not a cause-and-effect relationship that exercise makes you smarter — it's that exercise is the reason you're smart.Title image remixed from forest_strider (Shutterstock).
No one's saying put down the mental challenges and spend all day at the gym — moderation and inclusion are what's important here. The New York Times draws on a 2011 study published in the journal Genes, Brain and Behavior, where researchers observed that mice that exercised regularly were not only better able to complete cognitive tasks than those that didn't, but even more than mice that were provided with other cognitive games and toys. They loved the toys, but unless the mice exercised, the researchers didn't see the changes in their brain that corresponded with the improved cognitive performance on their tests.
What does all of this mean for you and I? There's still a lot of research to be done before the conclusions of these studies can be applied to humans. But even when that research is finished, it will just be the most recent drop of water in an ocean of evidence that proves we're built for motion and activity, and that activity is very closely related to our intellectual capacity, productivity and creativity. Neglecting your body's health is, in effect, also neglecting your mental health, in more ways than one.
What do you think? Good enough reason to hit the gym on the way home from the office? Do you exercise regularly and feel the mental benefits of it? Share your experiences in the comments below.