You know that regular exercise keeps your body fit and strong. But did you realize that the benefits go way beyond being able to fit into your favorite pants? Scientific literature is making it clear that another benefit to moving your body is improving memory. The effects on the brain of increased exercise are nothing short of amazing. Simply put, the better your body works, the better your mind works too.Researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered that regular aerobic exercise has a surprising effect on the brain. It actually seems to increase the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning.
This is not the first time scientists have found differences in the brains of those who exercise. Multiple studies have shown the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex are larger in people who exercise. These regions of the brain control thinking and memory. The prefrontal cortex, in particular, is the area of the brain that is responsible for executive function, or higher-level reasoning and decision making.
Scientists suspect that the brain is affected by one of the many positive results in the body of exercise - the release of growth factors. These powerful hormones help new brain cells develop and survive, plus encourage the growth of new blood vessels to feed the brain.
Another area of exciting discovery is how exercise helps prevent age-related cognitive decline.It may even delay or prevent dementia. This result of improving memory may be because exercise supports cardiovascular health and circulation, ensuring healthy blood flow to the brain.
Related: How does sedentary behaviors in school impact students’ mental health?
Exercise helps control blood sugar levels, and is shown to reduce volumes in hippocampus size, common in people who have impaired glucose tolerance. It seems that the effect on cognitive function is best when people engage in both aerobic exercise and strength-training, with workouts that last a minimum of 30 minutes.
But exercise doesn't just prevent problems; there is evidence that it can also be instrumental in improving memory, even in individuals who are showing cognitive decline. A study published in the Journal of Aging Research looked at the effect of exercise on people with probable mild cognitive impairment. They showed that physical activity led to significant improvement in verbal and spatial memory, which is an exciting finding because there are so few effective treatments for cognitive impairment.
The evidence is mounting that an active lifestyle is key in improving memory. Standing desks can be an important tool in adding more movement to your life. In fact, a pilot research study at Texas A&M demonstrated improved executive function and working memory in high school freshmen who used standing desks over nearly 28 weeks. This opens up a whole new area of scientific inquiry about the benefits of standing desks, which has mostly focused on the physical benefits.
As the evidence supporting the use of standing desks grows, interest in using them to improve people's quality of life is bound to grow also. At Stand2Learn, we are committed to all the ways innovative standing desks can support the health of the whole person, body, and mind.
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Harris County Department of Education awarded a new contract for Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment to Today's Classroom!
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