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Brain Rules - Exercise Boosts Brain Power!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I recently downloaded a book from Amazon called “Brain Rules” by John Medina. I get an email every day with Kindle Daily Deals where certain books are deeply discounted for one day. Brain Rules was discounted to $1.99 and sounded interesting so I got it. I started to read it yesterday and it is fascinating. John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist focused on genes involved in human brain development and the genetics of psychiatric disorders. I thought it would be interesting to blog about the book as I read through it. The book discusses 12 brain principles that you can implement to thrive. After just reading a little of the book it is obvious that there is so much we don’t understand about the brain!
Interesting chapter and after reading what he has to say about this I believe it. For thousands of years our species survived by thinking while being quick on our feet. We did a LOT of walking, running, climbing, lifting, etc. and averaged about 12 miles a DAY. That is 24,000 steps… much more than the recommended 10,000 we hear about today and not even close to what people today average. Sitting in classrooms, cubicles, and couches is the polar opposite of what is needed for our brain to function at its best. Why is exercise important for your brain you might ask? Exercise generates blood vessels and the more blood your brain cells receive the more energy they have to use. The brain uses glucose (from carbohydrates) which is delivered through blood. Waste material (free radicals) are removed from the brain through blood and transferred to your lungs and excreted as your exhale carbon dioxide. Study after study has been done which clearly indicates that people (and animals) that are active think clearer are less prone to disease and depression. Medina speculates that if offices and classrooms all used treadmill desks that productivity and attention spans would improve.
Now to apply this to our daily life…. Maybe next time you sit down to watch a movie consider instead getting on the treadmill to watch it and setting it to walk at 2 mph. I’m going to see if I can get a sofa table or something similar set up where I can use my computer while walking. I get a lot of exercise with my job (I am a food/brew server) so during a normal 4-5 hour shift I will walk easily 3-5 miles. I also run 3 times a week averaging 3-5 miles and go to the gym 5 days a week. Some of my best thinking is done while I’m on my runs… maybe now I know why!!
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