We all know the stereotype. There is a common perception of athletes and fitness enthusiasts, especially strength trainers, as a bunch of lunkheads. They are often seen as thick-necked, dim-witted, and unintelligent. However, scientific studies are showing a direct link between physical fitness and mental strength. Therefore, if you want to boost mental capacity and intelligence, hit the gym and workout.
This should not be news. In today’s world, the word gymnasium is synonymous with an athletic training or fitness center. However, historically, a gymnasium was also an institution of learning. In fact, in Ancient Greece, the gymnasium was not only an athletic training facility, but it was an establishment of education and health. The Greeks, well over 2000 years ago. understood the link between health, fitness, and education.
Exercise and Cognitive Ability
Regardless, modern science is catching up to ancient wisdom. Repeated studies show exercise improves memory and cognitive ability. For example, a 2010 study, published by Elsevier Ltd, found “the level of exercise associated with improved fitness in middle-aged humans is sufficient to increase both the rate of learning and blood flow to the cerebral cortex”. The increased blood flow to brain brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
Additionally, a 2014 study from the School of Psychology at Georgia Tech found regular exercise improves recall. The researchers believe exercise release the hormone norepinephrine, which is important for memory formation and retention among other mental benefits. Audrey Duarte, an associate professor in the School of Psychology at Georgia Tech, states, “The findings are encouraging because they are consistent with rodent literature that pinpoints exactly the parts of the brain that play a role in stress-induced memory benefits caused by exercise.”
Fitness and Improved Learning
The benefits are possibly greater for children. Researchers have found that 40 minutes of daily exercise improves a child’s average IQ by 3.8 points. Moreover, fitter students score 30 percent better on tests, and those who play sports have a 20 percent improvement in Math, Science, and Engish. This is an unfortunate revelation since many school districts are cutting back on fitness education and athletics for budgetary reasons.
Workout at Work
However, there are limits to the benefits. The gains of cognitive ability from exercise are lost if one becomes inactive. Sitting in an office all day, without any real physical activity, will diminish mental performance. Therefore, scientists now recommend a 5- to 10-minute workout for every hour of sitting. Without it, the past gains will begin to fade.
All things considered, the benefits of your workout go beyond cardiovascular health, physical strength, weight loss, and overall health. The mounting evidence shows that there is a firm link between physical fitness, health, and mental ability. If you want improved memory and thinking ability, make regular exercise a part of your everyday life.
If you would like to talk more about how your workout boosts brain power, or have any questions, please leave a comment below.