Naturally, many of us dismiss that particular piece of advice, because taking exercise sounds like hard work. So we come up with plenty of good reasons why our brains work just fine without having to take a walk or go for a cycle ride.
Unfortunately for the natural sloths among us, science has now confirmed the connection between exercise and intelligence.
It seems that taking exercise has two important effects on our brains.
First, it stimulates the creation of new brain cells.
These new neurons are created, but at first contribute nothing. How come? Because a new neuron does nothing useful until it becomes attached to an existing neural network.
This is where the second benefit of exercise comes in. Exercise not only increases the number of new neurons in your brain, but also makes them “nimble”, so they can find and attach themselves to existing neural networks.
So yes, exercise makes you smarter.
If you don’t believe me, just read the article from which I drew the information for this post. It’s called How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain, by Gretchen Reynolds.
Which brings us back to you and me.
Three or four times a week I walk, cycle or kayak for an hour or so. Hopefully that’s enough to help create a large number of new and nimble neurons. I do like the idea of getting smarter.
Beyond that, I value my few hours of exercise for other reasons too. It means I get outside. I walk on grass, and through the shade of trees. I hear the dip and splash of my paddle while kayaking. I feel the peace of space and nature around me.
As I have mentioned in previous Monday Sparks, getting away from my desk and immersing myself in nature also helps clear my mind of the clutter of my daily tasks, and allows my brain to wander far and wide. This is where my most creative thinking takes place, and where I have my occasional big ideas.
How about you?
Do you make a habit of taking some exercise on a regular basis?
Say yes to nimble neurons!
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…