Thursday, March 22, 2007

exercise makes people smarter ::The Hindu News Update Service

The Hindu News Update Service

Exercise can make people smarter, says report

New York, March 19 (PTI): A recent and rapidly growing movement in science is showing that exercise can make people smarter, Newsweek reports in its upcoming issue.

Last week, in a landmark paper, researchers announced that they had coaxed the human brain into growing new nerve cells, a process that for decades had been thought impossible, simply by putting subjects on a three-month aerobic-workout regimen.

Other scientists, the magazine reports, have found that vigorous exercise can cause older nerve cells to form dense, interconnected webs that make the brain run faster and more efficiently. And there are clues that physical activity can stave off the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease, ADHD and other cognitive disorders.

The magazine says it examined with Harvard Medical School, the latest research and findings about how an active body is crucial for building a strong, active mind. "People have been slow to grasp that exercise can really affect cognition," says University of Illinois neuroscientist Charles Hillman.

Armed with brain-scanning tools and a sophisticated understanding of biochemistry, Newsweek reports, researchers are realizing that the mental effects of exercise are far more profound and complex than they once thought.

Researchers, the article says, are learning more about how exercise affects mood: it decreases anxiety, improves sleep, improves resilience in the face of stress and raises self-esteem. All these benefits don't come because you notice what you've lost around your waist. Rather, they come from exercise-induced alterations inside your head, Michael Craig Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, is quoted as saying.

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