Are Runners Smarter?


Not only does a 30 minute dose of exercise at school increase a student’s ability to focus, exercise prior to testing can improve brain function. There is also evidence that cardiovascular fitness helps delay the effects of aging on the brain.


Recent research published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise has unveiled a chemical associated with exercise that improves brain function. Researchers at Texas Tech University tested cognitive function as well as the presence of the enzyme BDNF in subjects prior to and after 30 minutes of exercise at light and more vigorous intensities. Following 30 minutes of exercise the subjects scored higher on the cognitive tests regardless of the exercise intensity. However, levels of the enzyme BDNF only increased as levels of lactate increased in the blood.


Blood derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF plays a role in the health of neurons in the brain and appears to increase proportionally to the intensity of exercise. In a separate study examining the age related decline in tissue density of the brain, those with higher levels of cardiovascular fitness demonstrated less reduction in brain tissue density.


Not only is regular exercise healthful – it’s smart!


Bryan Whitesides MPT, OCS

Physical Therapist

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