We get bigger muscles by lifting heavy weights but have you ever wondered if there was an exercise that can make you brain bigger? If you have, then you are in luck! A new study published in the journal NeuroImage has shown that doing aerobic exercises not only increases your brain size but makes it healthier as well.
The research done by the scientists of Western Sydney University in Australia and the University of Manchester in the U.K, found that people who included aerobics in their fitness programme had bigger brains, in terms of volume, as compared to people who did not involve themselves in this practice.
Researchers reviewed 14 clinical trials and studied more than 700 people, in the age group of 24-76. They were made to do aerobics for 3 to 24 months which involved two to five sessions a week. The research included mixed participants, healthy adults, people with mild cognitive Alzheimer's and people with clinical diagnosis of mental illness.
It was seen that while there was not much difference in the total volume of hippocampal (a region which is responsible for memory and plays an important role in spatial navigation), there was a significant increase to be seen on the left side of the hippocampal region in the brain.
“When you exercise, you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain,” lead author Joseph Firth, a Ph.D. research fellow at NICM, said in a statement. “Our data showed that, rather than actually increasing the size of the hippocampus per se, the main ‘brain benefits’ are due to aerobic exercise slowing down the deterioration in brain size. In other words, exercise can be seen as a maintenance program for the brain.”
So the next time you hit aerobic classes, remember that you aren’t only working with your muscles, but are pumping your brain as well!