I can make you smarter and more successful in 30 minutes. All you need to know how to do: Tie your shoes and put one foot in front of the other.
It’s no secret that Spartan races are good for the body and soul. Exercise helps you to stay physically healthy; working to achieve difficult goals keeps you grounded and motivated. What you may not realize, however, is that Spartan races are great for the brain too, making you sharper, smarter, and just plain better at what you do.
A recent study found that regular aerobic exercise, which is essential when training for a Spartan race, boosts the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning. Research also shows that this type of exercise stimulates the release of “growth factors” in the brain—chemicals that fuel the development of new blood vessels and the growth and health of brain cells. In fact, the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal cortex, the regions of the brain that control thinking and memory, are larger in people who exercise regularly. And there is preliminary research suggesting that exercise may cause new stem cells to grow, refreshing not only the brain but the body in general.
The research linking exercise to a healthier, higher-functioning brain is so strong that John Ratey, M.D., who teaches psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, calls exercise “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”
Interestingly, exercise positively affects more than just the physical structure of the brain. It also helps to regulate mood and sleep, and combat stress and anxiety.
It also helps you focus. Studies of children have found that those who exercise and play before school have much higher concentration levels. And these effects were relatively long-lasting—two to four hours. Similar studies in adults have found that executives who do some sort of daily exercise are more productive and make better decisions at work.
Exercise is so good for the brain, in fact, that it’s now being used as an adjunct treatment for degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
More success. Less stress. Better sleep. Lower anxiety. Plus, a happier life in general. It will all be yours at the end of a good run. What are you waiting for?