Sunday, April 24, 2016

Run for Clarity

Today was a gorgeous day for a run, low humidity, bright green spring leaves, and birds chirping all over. It was a great workout, and I may have grown some new neurons in the process. (One can always hope).

See? Spring!  OK, Christmas. In the City. Not at all what I saw in the park.
Still hoping I gained some neurons, though.



Many athletes feel like they can best clear their mind while running or completing a hard workout.

Studies have shown that animals and people produce new neurons in the brain throughout the lifespan, and, so far, vigorous aerobic exercise is the only activity known to trigger the creation of those new neurons.

Many studies have identified a link between aerobic exercise and improvement in memory through enlargement of the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with learning and memory. And the new research finds that this is where the new nerve cells appear...but only if you work at it.

“If you are exercising so that you sweat — about 30 to 40 minutes — new brain cells are being born,” says Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology who is also a runner. “And it just happens to be in that memory area.”

Composite of brain scans of University of Illinois students show more activity in areas associated with learning and memory after exercising than after just sitting. Image credit: Chuck Hillman

Scientists have shown that vigorous workouts can enable faster learning, at least in the short term, and they appear to help with longer-term thought processes as well.

An intense workout can help keep your mind in the present and allow it to wander, giving it the space to think bigger thoughts or plan your future, which might also trigger relevant memories. Exercise has been shown to decrease anxiety and regulate emotion, so you may be able to handle stress or sad events better after exercise than without it, which may enable clearer thinking.

A great case to get out there and burn up the roads, trails, or dance floor while the weather is nice.



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  11. Running has become more of a meditation method for me as time goes buy. The picture at the bottom really says it all. The longer you make running a habit, the more you will be inclined to face that realization.

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    1. Hi Dan, Agreed. And you win regardless, since even on a bad run, you are getting great exercise!

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