Change your body – change your brain

We significantly underestimate the positive impact that working out has on our brains. Big Pharma has poured millions into curing dementia, for instance, yet so far no drug has beat out exercise for slowing down its onset. Regular dancing reduces the risk of developing dementia by 76%–twice as much as reading!–according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  

If you enjoy imagining rats lifting tiny weights on tiny weight benches, you’ll get a kick out of a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. This study involved a tiny ladder and bags of weighted pellets gently taped to the rats’ rear ends. The rodents received a Fruit Loop when they reached the top of the ladder. 

After a few weeks of this, the rats’ memory centers were positively teeming with enzymes, and genetic markers known to kick-start new neurons and increase neuroplasticity. The study showed that the rats not only gained stronger little muscles, they also showed an improvement in their ability to think. Although this sounds like the first act of a movie about musclebound rats taking over Planet Earth, it’s a very encouraging indication of the power of exercise to stimulate the brain.