Most people know that exercise is good for you, both physically and mentally. Physical activity can be a great stress reliever too. However, when it comes to bulking up the brain, not all exercise is created equal.
A new study examined three different types of exercise, running, weight training, and high-intensity interval training, to see which of the three created the most positive impact on brain cell growth. Specifically, researchers were interested in which type of exercise would increase brain volume, reduce the number and size of holes in the brain’s grey and white matter, and stimulate the creation of new brain cells.
Past studies have mostly focused on the benefits of running. While this study examined running, it did so in relation to other forms of exercise to see if different types of physical exercise produced different rates of brain growth.
Researchers put rats into three different exercise groups, and monitored the results. After seven weeks, researchers microscopically examined each rat’s hippocampus brain tissue. Rats that had jogged on wheels had hippocampal tissue full of new neurons. And, it seemed that the more the rats ran, the more cells the brain contained. Rats that were in the high-intensity interval training group had less brain cell growth, although more so than the sedentary control group. Lastly, although the rats who were in the weight training group were strong, there was no real difference in their brain chemistry compared to the control group.
The article is quick to point out that rats and humans do not have identical brain chemistry. However, results seem to suggest that sustained aerobic exercise, such as running is the most beneficial for your brain growth and brain health.
So, what does this mean for you, a budding public speaker? Going on a brisk walk, or a short run, might be a great activity to do before you practice your speech, or before you present to an audience. However, if you want to substantially boost your brain volume, follow the article’s advice, and develop an aerobic workout routine. Not only will the regular exercise help you manage stress, but you might also find yourself becoming a more eloquent, poised public speaker—and one with a big brain!