Loaned from Lumosity.com:
“Aerobic exercise is great for the brain!
But anaerobic exercise seems to have little effect on cognitive function. Weight lifters and other strength trainers, take note: blood flow throughout the body will help neural circuitry and neuroplasticity, but targeted exercise doesn’t achieve that flow and fails to show any effect on the brain.
Strenuous aerobic exercise sets off a chain reaction of growth factors that require additional blood flow, which can only be supplied when the body is moving at a rate that prompts unusually high blood flow.
These findings are the result of several studies conducted in rats and humans that tested abilities to perform higher cognitive functions before and after aerobic exercise. In one experiment, published by the American College of Sports Medicine, college students were asked to memorize a string of numbers, which they were tested on after they’d either sat down, lifted weights, or run on a treadmill. Each student was tested after each activity. Students performed much better after running than after either of the other activities.
Similarly, elderly patients were tested on cognition after either brisk walking or stretching. The walkers improved on cognitive tests whereas the stretchers did not, showing that even moderate aerobic exercise can be good for maintaining and even increasing what we usually think of as “intelligence!””