We know regular exercise is good for your physical health, but does it make you smarter, too?
Neuroscientists at Oregon Health & Science University studied mice and found that short bursts of exercise boost the part of the brain associated with learning and memory.
“It’s true. Mice are not humans,” Gary Westbrook, a Senior Scientist at the Vollum Institute, said. “We know that many of the basic memory formation in mice are identical in humans. And these have been studied down to the molecular levels.”
Westbrook, a senior scientist who worked on the study, said previous research focused on the benefits of regular exercise has on overall health.
Neuroscientists wanted to know the brain-specific benefit of working out.
The study specifically measured the brain’s response to single bursts of exercise in otherwise sedentary mice.
The short-term bursts of exercise in mice, which is comparable to about 4,000 steps for humans, was enough to prime the brain for learning.
Westbrook said they working to prove a direct link between the two.
“The message is you don’t have to be going to the gym every day,” Westbrook said. “That’s great if you do. But, even taking a long walk can have a positive effect.”