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Exercise: It's Medicine For the Mind

Exercise: It's Medicine For the Mind

“By exercising our bodies, we exercise our brains.”

SILVER SPRING, MD – July 19, 2016 -- The ancient Greeks had it right when it came to the importance of a sound mind and a sound body.  And, recent research conducted around the world confirms it.  Many recent studies in North America, Europe and Australia confirm that while exercise is truly great for the body, it is extremely beneficial for the mind, too.  While the benefits of cardiovascular workouts and strength training are well documented, certain types of exercise also provide specific benefits to specific parts of the brain, according to a recent story in Conscious Life News.Brain Conscious

"To use our brains to their full potential, we have to engage our bodies,” says Dr. Ross Alloway, PhD, Research Associate, University of North Florida and co-author of the Working Memory Advantage.  “By exercising our bodies, we exercise our brains.”

Just as specific exercises enhance the development of the body, various forms of exercise also can improve certain parts of the brain.  For instance, weight lifting improves problem solving, aerobic exercise improves one’s memory, and running helps youngsters get mentally focused in the classroom.

According to Dr. Charles Hillman from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, one of the biggest takeaways from this research is that schools should recognize the mental benefits of exercise for students and reorganize their daily schedules to give students more physical activity breaks.  And, it starts with bringing back daily P.E. and recess for students.

Alloway agrees with Hillman.

“By cutting P.E. from our class schedule, we are cutting out a valuable means for improving our kids’ cognitive abilities, including working memory,” adds Alloway.  “By improving working memory through dynamic exercise, we can give our children a head start at school.”

For children to benefit from being physically active, the activities don’t have to be structured or organized.
“This research shows that even simple playground activities like running, jumping, crawling, and balancing are important for training our brains to function at their highest potential,” adds Alloway.

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PhD, PT, an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia (Canada), conducted research with women who had an increased risk of developing dementia because they were suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  After introducing that group of women to six months of weight training and brisk walking, Liu-Ambrose compared their fitness with a control group of women who just stretched for six months.  The group of weight lifters and walkers had stronger scores in the area of their memory than the control group.  The exercise reaped dividends.

To read other research uncovered by PHIT America which supports the connection between physical activity and improved academic performance, click here.

“Whether it’s getting more children involved in physical activity initiatives at school or adults taking ownership of their mental and physical health through exercise, it’s imperative that all people make any type of physical activity a regular priority in their lives,” says Mike May, PHIT America’s Director of Communications.  “Sharing this research with others is a key part of the PHIT America mission.”