Just Before Show Time
Get Your Body Moving
There’s a very simple concept
around that implies exercise improves your brain
When blood courses through your
brain, it doesn’t just distribute nutrients, it also
carries oxygen molecules that act like sponges to soak
up the waste products, and transport them out of the
brain. The more oxygen sponges you put through there,
the cleaner and more efficient the brain will be.
When you exercise, you increase
the rate of blood flow across the tissues of your body,
by stimulating your blood vessels to manufacture a
flow-regulating molecule called nitric oxide. Exercise
helps to create new blood vessels that further enhance
the distribution of blood to the body tissues. The more
blood vessels you have, the more those oxygen sponges
can clean up.
The same thing happens in your
brain. Imaging studies have shown that as you exercise,
there’s an increase in blood flow to a region called the
dentate gyrus, which works with the hippocampus, a
region directly associated with memory.
In addition, blood flow to the
brain enhances the growth of something called Brain
Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a sort of fertilizer
for your brain. BDNF helps keep your neurons young, and
helps your brain form new ones.
So, what’s the lesson? Movement
in the body increases blood flow to the brain, which
makes you smarter!