How Running Improves Brain Function
Running is a great for the body but does it help boost brain power? New research from University of Arizona is showing that longer runs may improve brain function.
There has been plenty of study on exercise and the brain but not on how long runs play a role in neuroplasticity. The UA researchers wanted to know if prolonged exercise with minimal motor could improve neural connections in the brain.
This research is different from other studies because it focused on younger runners. What they found was interesting. The researchers analyzed 22 runners, 11 endurance athletes and 11 non-athletes for control. The age of the runners where between 18-25 and had a similar BMI. Before the study the runners underwent MRI scans and aerobic assessments which looked at the differences between the groups.
They had some interesting findings
“Our results suggest that engagement in high levels of aerobic activity in young adulthood is associated with differences in resting state functional connectivity in networks known to be linked to executive function and motor control compared with more sedentary individuals”
The authors of the study found that there are many protective benefits when starting an endurance program at an early age. Engaging in endurance activities may slow down age related cognitive decline.
“The areas of the brain where we saw more connectivity in runners are the same areas impacted by age, so it raises the question of whether being active as a young adult could be potentially and perhaps afford some resilience against the efforts of aging and disease”, Said Gene Alexander, PHD, in UA news release.
The Take Away
We all know that running is good for us. It helps our hearts and keeps us at a healthy weight but more research is finding that running may also help our brain function. This study shows that we should start running at an early age to help slow the aging process of the brain. If you’re a parent get your kids started early and if your older get started now and live a long healthy life.