Turns out being active may boost more than just your biceps – scientists in Ireland recently asked a group of sedentary male college students to take part in a memory test, where some then followed up with strenuous exercise while others simply sat quietly. Both groups were then retested and their performances compared. Read more about the study here.
The result? The group that had been active between the two tests boosted their performance on the second test, performing “significantly better” while the group that had merely rested between tests did not improve.
Scientists believe blood samples taken during the study may have the answer as to why. The active group’s samples showed higher leves of a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which is known to promote the health of nerve cells. The men who had sat quietly showed no comparable change in BDNF levels.
Similar studies have shown the same result, and even very small increases in physical activity can boost the amount of BDNF in your brain. So next time you want to skip the gym or stay home instead of run, remember that it’s not just your muscles you’ll be benefitting but also your brain!