Get Fit, Get Smart

Not only does exercise help you lose weight, lower blood pressure and cut the risk for heart disease, it also makes you smarter, according to preliminary research.

Researchers from the Montreal Heart Institute have now documented that cognitive functions – the ability to think, remember and make decisions – improve greatly after exercising, according to a news release from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The scientists followed a group of overweight, inactive adults for four months. After exercising for twice a tweek during that time, the study participants improved their physical condition and their cognitive abilities.

“If you talk to people who exercise, they say they feel sharper,” said Dr. Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute in the news release.  “Now we’ve found a way to measure that.”

Here’s how it works: when you exercise, blood flow to the brain increases. The more you exercise, the more often that blood flow increases.

“At least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week can make a huge difference to manage risk factors for heart disease and stroke,” said Dr. Beth Abramson, a spokeswoman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “There are many benefits of exercise – we know it can make us feel better. This suggests it can make us ‘think better’ as well.”

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