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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

Just Before Show Time

Get Your Body Moving

There’s a very simple concept around that implies exercise improves your brain function.

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!

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