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Just Do It: How Physical Exercise Make You Smarter

Lately there has been a lot of press about how exercise makes you smarter. You might not have heard that different types of exercise improve smart-ness in different ways.

For example, are you:

  • Feelling like your memory is a little fuzzy? Try getting some aerobic exercise.
  • Working through a complex design project? Lifting weights might help.
  • Anxious or unmotivated at work? Consider yoga, qi gong, or tai chi.
  • Feeling distracted or suffering from information overload? Do some cross training or take a dance class.

The fact that exercise lights up the same areas of the brain that we use for processing information and feelings underlines the profound interconnectedness of the body and mind. And, for me, it has been a big encouragement to try to get a wider variety of physical activity during my work day.

You might be thinking that you don’t have time to do multiple workouts a day. Rest assured, I am not asking you to become a gym rat because there is a lot of evidence suggesting that exercise benefits brain function almost immediately.

Here is what I like to recommend to my clients: try doing three to five very short workouts (2-5 minutes long) during the workday. It is ideal to have them range from high intensity and strength training to coordination and relaxation-oriented exercises like yoga because your brain benefits differently from each of them. Desk Yogi is pretty much ideal for easily accessing this kind of variety with a very short time commitment.

Science Support links:

Overview study and immediacy of benefit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768113/

Memory
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3910002/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10195220

Anxiety
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3111147/

Complex thinking
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25648055

Decision making
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21417955

Distraction (inhibition)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062100/

Good brain graphic for art ideas
http://consciouslifenews.com/new-finding-different-types-exercise-affect-different-parts-brain/11121031/

Author: Scott Blossom

Scott Blossom is a licensed practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) specializing in acupuncture, lifestyle/diet therapy, and Chinese herbology. Scott has also studied closely with Dr. Robert Svoboda over the last eight years to incorporate Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle therapies into his work. Scott’s approach to yoga practice is based on his studies with hatha yoga master Zhander Remete who founded the Shadow School of Yoga. Scott employs yoga practices therapeutically and as an adjunct to TCM or Ayurvedic therapy when appropriate.

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