The brain likes when we exercise regularly. Its memory and focus functions are much sharper when we are able to get at least 20 minutes of exercise per day. This is a well-researched fact, and most people concerned about their cognitive health realize that they must also exercise to stay sharp. Proven in lab tests back in the 1990s, lab rats who were able to run on exercise wheels every day also showed significant growth in the area of the brain responsible for memory creation and retention.
While these facts about exercise are widely accepted in the neuroscience and medical communities, what has not been widely known is how certain types of exercise affect certain regions of the brain. Does running every day affect the brain differently than lifting weights every day? How about simple stretching and toning exercises – do these also benefit the brain? In order to find the answers, researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted some interesting tests.
These tests involved a group of women who had reported minor cognitive impairment – this condition is characterized by simple forgetfulness or inability to piece things together. For example, these women had trouble remembering where their car keys were or how they met their friend’s husband the first time. A sharp mind does not have trouble processing such things. One group of women was given the order to take up power walking for 6 months, the second group was ordered to do weight lifting for 6 months, and the final group was tasked with toning and stretching. The results found that the women who ran or lifted weights improved their verbal memory and deep cognitive memory. The women who just stretched did not experience improvements to their memories. Again, exercise does wonders for cognitive development.