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Blog: How Exercise Makes You Smarter

Exercising could lead to a rush of calcium to the brain. That sounds like a good thing.

Alright guys, back to school and that means back to studying! Uggghhhhhh. That means spending long hours in dark, dreary rooms studying your butts off.

Psych! I'm here to tell you that that you definitely should NOT do that. What a relief, right? 

As far as learning material goes, studying is definitely a necessity. However, something many students overlook is how crucial exercise is to learning. Yes, I said exercise.

You see, exercise leads to neurogenesis, which is simply a fancy way of saying it leads to the creation of new neurons (neurons are nerve cells). We’re not exactly sure why this happens, but scientists are finding that the stress of exercising could lead to a rush of calcium to the brain. This calcium then causes a chain reaction, which eventually produces BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) proteins. These proteins are then what nourish neurogenesis. 

Why is neurogenesis important? Good question. Let’s begin with the fact that neurons transmit information throughout the body. Trying to learn something without neurons is like trying to entice your breakfast into taking your dog for a walk – it’s not gonna happen. Neurogenesis also maintains the current neurons you have, keeping them healthy and protected.

What’s more, exercising increases the number of connections of neurons, which leads to better being able to process and store information in the brain. This in itself is very important. Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s grow worse through losing neurons, and neurogenesis, caused through exercise, is a great way to combat that.

Be warned, though: You can’t exercise yourself to genius-ness. A study done on mice showed that those who led a lifestyle in which they over exercised actually impaired their ability to learn.

Strangely enough however, exercise happens to be one of the only few ways discovered (so far) for the body to create new neurons. Fancy that.

But exercise isn’t only good for neurogenesis. It actually leads to a release of endorphins. Endorphins relieve pain, thus making you feel good, and can be anywhere from 18 to 500 times more powerful than any man-made analgesic (a drug which acts to relieve pain). Endorphins can also help to curb cravings for addictive substances, control frustration, help produce growth and sex hormones in the body, as well as to aid people with eating disorders.

In other words, they are good.

After about a half-hour of exercising, endorphins are released into the body. They are chiefly there to help reduce the pain and stress of the activity the person is doing, but they have the above-noted side effects as well.

Here’s a warning, though: the release of these endorphins does have an additive side, where you’ll need more and more exercise to achieve the same stimulation as time passes. These endorphins actually lock onto the same receptors that heroin does, however they are not nearly as addictive.

And yet it is shown that people can exercise to the point of “happiness.” Tests have shown that those who exercise more frequently get over mild depression quicker, and those who are physically active have much better mental health as they age.

So if you really want to learn, spend some time being active outside. It'll do you wonders.

There is plenty of valuable information here.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Control Worry Frustation February 22, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Thank you so much for sharing this outstanding article.It is definitely going to help me in near future.

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