Being healthy is not just focusing on the physical side of things, you have to stimulate your brain as well if you want to live a long, healthy and prosperous life. Exercise will have a serious positive effect on bulking up your brain.
But what type of exercise is most effective? Is it weight training, high intensity interval training or endurance exercise, like running?
It seems that some forms of exercise are more effective than others at bulking up the brain, according to a remarkable new study conducted in rats. Scientists in Finland compared the head-to-head neurological impact of different types of exercise: weight training, running, and high-intensity interval training. The results were surprising and suggest that going at it hard may not be the best option for long-term brain health.
Exercise changes the structure and function of the brain. Studies in animals and people show that physical activity will increase brain volume. This is similar when training muscles, they grow. But that is not all. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells. You get smarter, twice! Research has shown that the number of brain cells doubles or even triples in a particular area of the brain called the hippocampus, a key area for learning and memory!
Past studies of brain development and exercise have focused on distance running.
But the impact of other forms of exercise on brain development has been unknown and of growing interest, given the increasing popularity of workouts such as weight training and high-intensity interval training.
A new study in Finland was designed to measure the effect of different forms of exercise on brain growth. The rats were divided into four groups: one group which remained sedentary, one group had running wheels in their cages, one group began weight training (don’t ask) and one group did the equivalent of high-intensity interval training.
Those rats that had jogged on wheels exhibited robust levels of brain development. Their hippocampal tissue teemed with new neurons – markedly more than in the brains of the animals who had been sedentary. The greater the distance a runner covered, the more new cells its brain showed.
Far fewer new neurons were seen in the brains of the animals that had been on the high-intensity interval training only a bit higher than in the sedentary animals. Weight-training rats, although much stronger at the end of the experiment, showed no discernible increase of brain development, their hippocampal tissue identical to that of the non-exercising animals.
These results do not mean, however, that only running strengthens the brain. Weight training and high-intensity interval training probably lead to different types of changes in the brain. However, if you would like to improve your memory and ability to learn, you better start running!
If you are looking to improve either your brain or your physical health, give us a call at 303-776-6767 to see how chiropractic can help you turn over a New Leaf of Health!