No, some of you couch potatoes say, thinking about some football freaks in highschool and you are probably right. Active people are probably not smarter. But what if you would just slightly change that question like John Medina does in his Brain Rules, which I read and re-read this summer (yes, I guess I’m stupid even if I exercise regularly but I needed to think about it and time is one of th wonderful gifts of holidays.) He instead asks the question: would you be smarter if you would exercise?
John Medina, a molecular biologist with a speciality in how our brains work, is humble enough to state that we don’t have a sure answer to this question but research point to the very likely posibility that if you stay physcially active, your brain stays mor fit as well. Most of the research has been done to the elderly, where there is a proven correlation between being active and mental health, where we can see clear effects in people starting and quitting exercise as a part of the research programs in question. Yes, it’s probably so that people who are mentally fit have a stronger possibility to exercise but in these studies they also tested to change the programs for the participants and the effects were clear.
There are also physical reasons why this might also be true, the brain is so dependent on oxygene and aerobic exercise affects the body’s capability to use oxygene. Also, there could be a evolutionary reason as well. We’ve been hunters and hunted in our near evolutionary history and when did we need our wits the most then? When we were slacking in a cage or in a tree or when were hunted by that big ugly hairy beast?
For myself, exercise has not only become a habit, it has become a necessity. I feel not 100% if I don’t get my three-times-a-week runs. I love taking the bike to work. I started every morning on our Cyprus vacation with a wonderful run along the beach when the guys were still sleeping. When I have something really tricky to think about at work, I fit in a lunch run or just hang around on the spinning bike because that seems to add another gear to my brain. The few studies made on kids in school also point at the strong possibility that students who are physically active during classes (no, not running around the class room while everyone is seated but when active movement is part of the class, such as walks in a forest) learn better than still classes for hours and hours.
So what do you have to loose? If you’re already exercising: now you have just one more reason to stick to your habit. You have probably a lower risk of age related mental disorders and could possibly become less intelligent would you give up your habits. And for you couch lovers: think about all these hidden qualities which you might harvest! Loose the bad excuses and use your full potential.