New research on the benefits of different types of exercise shows that running helps boost brain activity compared to other types of workouts, like lifting weights.
The research, conducted on rats, examined how three different types of workouts affected brain activity. The three workout methods were:
- Sustained aerobic exercise (running)
- High-intensity interval training
- Lifting weights
Rats participated in modified forms of each of the above exercise regimens for a period of six weeks. At the conclusion of the six weeks, doctors looked at the brain activity of each rat. They noticed that rats in the aerobic exercise group had developed new brain cells in their hippocampus, an area of the brain that is crucial for memory. Rats in the interval training group registered a small increase in the number of new brain cells, while lifting weights had no effect on growing new brain cells. Additionally, when compared to a control group that did not exercise, rats in the aerobic exercise group had 2-3 times as many neurons in the hippocampus.
“Our results suggest physical exercise promotes AHN [adult hippocampal neurogenesis] most if it is aerobic and sustained, and especially when accompanied by a heightened genetic predisposition for response to physical exercise,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers noted that their findings were limited because the study was completed on rats and not a human population, but they say the findings suggest that a similar growth would be exhibited in humans, and similar studies have suggested aerobic exercises can stimulate brain cell growth.
This isn’t to say that you should always go for a run instead of hitting the gym, but it speaks to the importance of getting on your feet and regularly incorporating aerobic exercise into your workout routine. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
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