My two sons are three and four right now, and every day I am absolutely blown away by the speed by which they’re learning new things. They’re absorbing words left and right (the days of swearing in front of them are long over) and picking up news skills all the time. In short, their brains are like plastic, molding and changing all the time.
Science tells us that my children’s brain plasticity is temporary. Once puberty sets in, the sponge aspect of a child’s brain switches gears. Instead of soaking up as much as it can, the brain restructures itself to get better at integrating and utilizing the things it’s already learned.
It’s this restructuring that makes learning as an adult a bit more difficult. There’s a reason why childhood is the best time to learn a second language. The brain is designed to do so.
Well, new research published in Cell Press has found that exercise may increase the plasticity in the adult brain. Plasticity is defined as the brain’s ability to adapt to new information and stimulus. And so, to conduct the experiment, scientists had subjects watch a movie with one eye covered. The expectation was that the brain would go into overdrive, making adjustments to improve the visual information it was receiving from the covered eye — a sign of neuroplasticity.
They conducted the experiment twice. The first time, subjects relaxed in a chair while watching the movie. The second time, they exercised on a stationary bike.
“We found that after physical activity, the eye that was patched is strongly potentiated, indicating increased levels of brain plasticity,” said Claudia Lunghi of the University of Pisa in Italy. In other words, the more exercise the subject got, the better its brain was at adapting.
It’s just another study that indicates how important exercise is to your health. We talk a lot about diet and nutrition here at Dherbs, but no one can be healthy without exercise. And as an increasing body of research indicates, the organ that benefits the most from exercise is the brain.
Every day, you need to be moving — for at least 20 minutes. Running is better than walking and walking is better than standing — but all are better than sitting. Whatever you can do. If you need even more convincing, take a look at this video: