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A 10-Minute Workout Can Change Your Brain for the Better

December 10, 2015

Are you a visual or auditory learner? A new study on the effect of exercise on the human brain suggests that we’re all actually kinesthetic learners. In other words, we learn by engage in physical activities.

Doing something, specifically moderate exercise, seems to have an effect on the brain’s plasticity. Neural plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to continually change, develop, grow, and make new connections between neurons. In the study, published in the journal Current Biology, neuroscientists from the University of Pisa tested the vision of two groups of subjects. One group sat on the couch while watching a movie, and the other completed short intervals on a spin bike for 10 minutes while also watching a movie.

Here’s the plot twist—everyone had on an eyepatch over one eye. Why? To test the subjects’ responses to exercise in the visual cortex, a part of the brain that’s often used to measure brain plasticity.

The results revealed that the group who pedaled on the stationary bike for just 10 minutes had a discernable difference in the strength of each eye, while those sitting on the couch did not. This indicates that exercise increases the brain’s plasticity, although researchers aren’t sure how. An increase in plasticity makes it easier to learn new skills, from mastering a new language, to playing music, to interpreting complex spatial patterns.

The study comes at an interesting time, when many schools are rethinking the traditional classroom and instead trading in chairs for standing desks and kinesthetic machines. With this proof that movement can boost brain function, maybe we’ll start seeing fewer chairs and more bikes in office cubicles.

Photo credit: Vegterfoto via Stocksy

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Michelle Pellizzon

Certified health coach and endorphin enthusiast, Michelle is an expert in healthy living and eating. When she's not writing you can find her running trails, reading about nutrition, and eating lots of guacamole.

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