Here are some facts that most people just don’t know:
- When you run, it affects a section of your brain that is linked with your ability to recall.
- Running and other aerobic exercises activates the process of cell growth.
- Running affects your appetite.
So, if you are still thinking that running just improves your physical health, you need to update your fund of knowledge.
The answer to this question has recently been unearthed by a group of neuroscientists at Cambridge University. Based on their study, they have concluded that running invigorates the brain to the point that it grows fresh grey matter that results in a positive impact on mental ability.
“We know exercise can be good for healthy brain function, but this work provides us with a mechanism for the effect,” stated Timothy Bussey, the senior author of the Cambridge University study and also a neuroscientist.
Running Creates New Brain Cells
The neuroscientists found out that a few days of running resulted in the growth of hundreds of thousands of fresh brain cells. This improved the ability to remember memories without confusing each one. The researchers said that this is a skill that is vital in learning and other cognitive tasks.
These fresh brain cells grew in a region which is related to the formation and recollection of memories. The research study showed why aerobic exercises such as running can enhance learning and memory. It also revealed its potential in slowing down the deterioration of mental capacity usually associated with old age.
The results of this Cambridge University Study perfectly match past researches that suggest the positive effect of running in brain functions although somewhat in a different vein.
In these previous studies, it was found that running improves the function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) – a part of the brain that is credited with executive processes like thought and action as well as short-term memory.
An Additional Benefit of Running – Appetite Control
In addition, the journal Psychosomatic Medicine published a new study which revealed the consequence if there is a decrease in the function of the DLPFC. The researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada recruited 21 women aged 19 to 26 who were all disposed to eating chips and chocolates.
A coil was placed on the surface of the head of each of the women, and a magnetic field was generated to dampen the DLPFC. The researchers found out that after the treatment, all the women felt stronger desire for treats and consumed more junk food than after a sham treatment where the coils did not generate a magnetic field.
The effect in their appetite was still the same even if they were offered healthier food options. It appeared that the women can’t say no to the unhealthy treats no matter what.
Based on the results of this study, the researchers concluded that the DLPFC is a vital section of the brain that can help a person resist cravings for junk foods. In conjunction with these findings, other studies have also indicated that short periods of aerobic exercise such as running will increase the flow of oxygen and blood to this section of the brain. In short, exercise, especially running will help you defeat your desire to eat unhealthy foods.
Proof of Concept
Some people are already enjoying the benefits of running whether in a gym such as Gold’s Gym or Anytime Fitness, or outside in the park. Here are some testimonials as to how running affected their brain functioning:
“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be. In running, the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms,” says Joyce Carole Oates, a professor of creative writing at Princeton University and an American author.
“Being a runner, to me, has made being depressed impossible. If ever I’m going through something emotional and just go outside for a run, you can rest assured that I’ll come back with clarity and empowerment,” says Wolfgang Ketterle, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics and professor at MIT.
“When I run, I think about everything: physics, family problems, plans for the weekend. I haven’t made any big discoveries on a run, but it does give me time to think through problems. Some solution are obvious, but they are only obvious when you are relaxed enough to find them,” states Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author.