So THAT’S Why I’m Smarter Than a Fifth Grader!

MouseI knew something was going on but I could never quite put my finger on it. Why did math suddenly make sense to me? How was it that 10 years after taking an italian class I could finally order a meal in perfect Italian? How did I become so freaking good at writing?

As it turns out, exercise is good for the noggin’, especially when it comes to producing Noggin. Let me explain for all you other brainiacs out there who don’t even realize you’re a brainiac.

In a NY Times article about a week ago it was reported that through exercise the brain actually produces new brain cells (the process is calledneurogenesis), and neurogenesis improves thinking. The tested subjects (mice and rats) ran their little hearts out on mini-treadmills (well, wheels) and as a result, they had all these new baby neurons running around in their brains that allowed them to race through mazes without making a wrong turn and aced “rodent I.Q.” tests. (So is that like some question and answer session?) Whatever it is, these rats proved to be the cream of the crop (and most likely NYC rats, the biggest and boldest of which I have yet to see matched in swiftness and suppleness. How that one rat came out from under that subway wheel is beyond me.)

Anyway, apparently this positive reaction can be duplicated in humans (yea for us) and is yet another reason we can all benefit from adding exercise into our daily lives—especially good news for all those baby boomer’s riding on the cusp (we all know what went on in the 60’s – many a good brain cells were left behind during those protests and peace rallies.)

What happens when we exercise is the brain produces a protein called Noggin which allows for cell divisions and neurogenesis. (Here is the full article if you’re interested since I am just a layman passing along the info.) Although this one line pretty much sums it up so let me share: Exercise, through a complex interplay with Noggin and BMP, helps to ensure that neuronal stem cells stay lively and new brain cells are born.

How exciting does that sound? Just to know all that is going on when you’re exercising, it’s amazing and motivating. This is why sometimes when you’re stuck on something, have writer’s block or need a surge in creativity, the number one answer to that problem is to get up and move.

So get up, exercise, go make some new brain cells and be smarter. Exercise does a brain good! (Oh, and that part about speaking Italian, slight exaggeration… it was 9 and a half years ago! 😉

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About the Author: Anne Marie Constanzo