Not Just Mind-Body, Mind-Exercise
For those of you who have been following our coverage of breakthroughs related to the significant connection between mind and body in posts like these; Brain and Body, Dr. Bob Brooks on Spark by Dr. John Ratey, you’ll be interested in some new research that seems to show more precisely the nature of that connection.
Long story short, although researchers still do not understand exactly how the process works studies seem to show that it is specifically exercise (as opposed to other kinds of activity like stretching or manipulation of objects) behind not only an increase in brain cells but also a more efficient incorporation of these new cells into the existing network.
Experiments comparing groups of animals, some with a rich environment of toys, a varied diet, and luxurious accommodations with other groups, some of which had only a running wheel and routine diet revealed that it was the running mice that experienced a lasting increase in cognitive function. Similarly, an experiment with older people showed that those who exercised by walking performed better on cognitive tests and lost less volume of their hippocampi than a group that participated only in a stretching program.
It seems to be simply exercise that builds brain power, more reason than ever to incorporate vigorous physical activity into the school day. For more, see this recent article in the New York Times.