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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Exercise Makes You Smarter

Yesterday, the NY Times Well Blog cites a study showing that exercise increases the production of neurons in our brains, thus improving thinking. Apparently, our brains have bone-morphogenetic proteins (BMP) that control, or often destroy, the growth of new brain cells. Exercise increases the amount of a brain protein, awesomely called Noggin, that cuts BMP production by up to 50%. Thus, allowing the growth of more brain cells. The article points out that there is some questions still remaining about how too much Noggin or too much BMP might cause some craziness in the brain, but it seems like exercise won't create an overabundance of Noggin, even if you run for hours.

I think this is fascinating stuff. It seems to me that our bodies are genetically equipped to reward us for movement. I mean, think about it. Our ancestors had to move around all the time just to survive. It makes sense that our brains are wired to reward us for all that exertion by making us smarter.

I'm definitely not a scientist, but it makes me wonder if our brains adapted to all the movement we had to do, creating more brain cells, making us smarter and helping us survive and procreate.

If nothing else, this news really reinforces a commitment to working out. That can be a new mantra as you sweat away on a run or on your bike: Create more Noggin!

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