Those in the business of running – and, of course, runners themselves – have always known that running is good for the body and the soul, but now there’s some research to prove it is good for the mind as well.
According to a recent study from the University of Calgary, published by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), running and other other aerobic exercises on a regular basis for just six months can boost brain function by 5.7 per cent. The study suggests that new runners of all ages should experience at least some improvements after adding consistent exercise.
“Even if you start an exercise program later in life, the benefit to your brain may be immense,” writes Marc Poulin, one of the authors on the study, says. “Sure, aerobic exercise gets blood moving through your body. As our study found, it may also get blood moving to your brain, particularly in areas responsible for verbal fluency and executive functions.”
The study looked at 206 adults over a six-month period in which they exercised at least four days a week. At the start of the six months, the subjects — who had an average age of 66 — underwent thinking and memory tests, and they also had ultrasounds to monitor the blood flow to their brains.
The study participants worked out in a supervised group setting three days a week throughout those six months and they were asked to exercise at least once more on their own each week. Their aerobic exercise program started at 20 minutes per day and was eventually bumped up to 40 minutes. After the six months, subjects showed a 5.7 per cent improvement on tests of executive function, as well as a boost of 2.4 per cent when it came to verbal fluency, which pertains to the ability to retrieve information.
“Our study showed that six months’ worth of vigorous exercise may pump blood to regions of the brain that specifically improve your verbal skills as well as memory and mental sharpness,” Poulin writes.
So if you are smart and want to get smarter, get out there and run!