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Why Do I Think Better after I Exercise?

| July 30, 2013

by Jim Bruce

Justin Rhodes, associate professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, tells us that excercise can be the answer.  The essay appeared in the Scientific American.

Rhodes says that there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that we think and learn better after we exercise.  Part of the reason that cognition increases after exercise is the increased blood flow.  When we exercise, blood flow and blood pressure all increase everywhere in the body, including the brain.  More blood, more oxygen which makes the brain function better.

Also, the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is critical for learning and memory, is highly active.  Research has shown that this improves cognitive function.  For example, one study showed that students who exercise do better on tests than students who do not.  

So, if you are stuck working on an issue, take a hike, or a run.  You may find that you’ll come back energized and with the next steps on your issue are much clearer.

During your reflection time this week, think about your typical day.  Are you intentional about getting up from your desk and moving about?  Think about meeting people in their space (or a nearby conference room).  Or, even better, having a walking meeting?  It would be good for the both of you.

.  .  .  jim