Thursday, August 6, 2009

Runners are Smarter

I know that I can say without hesitation that I think more clearly and quickly on the days which I exercise. My memory is more efficient, my thoughts come easier and I feel I can comprehend more easily after I run. I have always attributed it to mostly a better mood and less stress, almost a clearing out of my mental clouding, but perhaps it is more.

I just came across an article, which I thought may be of interest to this blog. It is written by T. A. Sloan from the Discovery Health channel, who has come across some material suggesting that exercise stimulates not only new connections in the brain, but possibly new cell growth. The new growth is found in areas of cognition, learning and memory. The brain growth is attributed to the increased micro blood vessels and oxygen in the brain, which occurs during exercise and promotes neurogenesis. These things along with endorphins are attributed to a more alert state and better memory retention far after exercise is ceased. Also, it is pretty well known that interaction with the environment is key to promoting new brain connections. (Sloan, 2009) While running, there is much about the environment and how we are experience it which is registered by the brain. This may have an affect on the growth as well.

An experiment in 1998 showed that mice who were exposed to environmental stimuli grew brain cells. A wheel was introduced and the mice were allowed to run as long and fast as they wanted, whenever they wanted. Those mice who participated in the activity grew TWICE as many cells as the mice who did not run. Now, it is probably a combination of the two, running and stimuli, which cause this astounding cell growth, possibly due to the increased oxygen and blood vessels which accompany running. (Sloan, 2009) The combination creates a "win-win" so to speak, as your brain is now more efficiently RECEIVING the information that is being introduced.

Has anyone noticed a feeling of easier thinking, remembering or learning since beginning to run/exercise?? Have you ever noticed that the conversation flows so effortlessly, honestly, and deeply while you exercise with a friend?? Have you noticed increased "epiphonies" while exercising??

What are your thoughts?


Sloan, T.A. (2009). Mind-Body Exercise Connection. Retrieved August 6, 2009, from

1 comment:

Brian R said...

One of my biggest motivatios for running is the stress relief and relief from anxiety.I have often wondered if running works WITH my medication on the days that I run.There is a definite difference in my anxiety level after I run and I tend to think more clearly,however it's more related to my thoughts being more organized than just thinking "better".