Use it or lose it: Exercise increases brain size Einstein

If you’re like me you feel great after a workout. Yes, I hate getting up early and driving to boot camp. In fact, many days it’s only the memory of how I will feel afterward that gives me the motivation to get out of bed. I know if I have a good workout, I will have a great day.

Well come to find out Trainer Ali of Rancho Santa Margarita Fit Body Boot Camp agrees. She basically said the following:

  • Your brain is a thinking organ that learns and grows by interacting with the world through perception and action.
  • Mental stimulation and exercise improves brain function and actually protects against cognitive decline. (You know…getting dumber)
  • No matter what age, the human brain is able to continually adapt and rewire itself. Even in old age, it can grow new neurons.
  • Severe mental decline is usually caused by disease, whereas most age-related losses in memory or motor skills simply result from inactivity and a lack of mental exercise and stimulation.
  • In other words, use it or lose it. (Now that I can understand)

Trainer Ali said, “Exercise has positive effects on the entire body. Hello! The brain is part of your body too.”

Not that I don’t trust Trainer Ali or anything. (She is a NESTA Certified PFT with over 10 years of experience.) But I had to find out for myself…and the funny thing is…she was right.

Before Fit Body Boot Camp RSM
After Fit Body Boot Camp RSM

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Illinois, Rice University and Ohio State in the US showed that a program of aerobic exercise, over the course of a year, can increase the size of the hippocampus – a part of the brain key to memory and spatial navigation – in adults aged 55 to 80.

The results were made public on Jan 31, 2011, by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They back up earlier research that has shown a correlation between fitness level and brain function.

To complete the study, the team recruited 120 older people who didn’t exercise regularly. Half were randomly assigned to an aerobic exercise program, walking around a track three days a week for 40 minutes per session. The other half embarked on a stretching-and-weights program. Both groups were carefully coached and monitored. They provided blood samples, performed spatial memory exercises and were given MRIs at the beginning, halfway point and end of the research period.

The group doing aerobic exercise had increases in hippocampus volume: up 2.12 per cent in the left hippocampus, and 1.97 per cent in the right hippocampus. The stretching group, on the other hand, had decreased hippocampus volume: down 1.40 per cent on the left and 1.43 per cent on the right.

Rancho Santa Margarita Fit Body Boot Camp is located at 22321 Gilberto, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688. The boot camp offers the only indoor, spring loaded floors to save your joints. They have three sessions a day M-F starting at 5:30am, 8:45am, & 6:15pm and one session on Sat at 8:00am. Contact Trainer Ali at 949-929-1249.

Trainer Ali says, “See? Smart people work out…now eat your veggies!”