We all know
running is good for your body.
But it can
also do wonders for the mind, according to Cambridge University
A regular jog
leads to the growth of new cells in the area of the brain which
boosts your memory, a study has found.
It is not clear
why aerobic exercise triggers the growth of grey matter (known as
neurogenesis) but it may be linked to increased blood flow or higher
levels of hormones that are released while exercising.
a behavioural neuroscientist at Cambridge and a senior author on
the study said the team studied two groups of mice, one which had
umlimited access to a running wheel while the other did not.
After a few
days left alone, they put both groups of mice through a series of
memory tests on a computer screen. It displayed two identical squares
side by side, and if they nudged the one on the left with their
nose they received a sugar pellet reward, while the one on the right
The mice who
had been running were almost twice as successful as those in the
control group at picking the correct square.
At the start
of the test, the squares were 30cm apart, but got closer and closer
together until they were almost touching.
This part of
the experiment was designed to test how good the mice were at separating
two very similar memories. The human equivalent could be remembering
what a person had for dinner yesterday and the day before, or where
they parked on different trips to the supermarket.
improvement was seen in the later stages of the experiment, when
the two squares were so close they nearly touched, according to
a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
mice got steadily worse at the test because their memories became
too similar to separate.
M Bussey told
the Guardian: ‘At this stage of the experiment, the two memories
the mice are forming of the squares are very similar. It is when
they have to distinguish between the two that these new brain cells
really make a difference.’