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Just 30 Minutes of Exercise Benefits the Brain

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Just one session of aerobic exercise can spark positive changes in the brain that lead to improved memory and coordination of motor skills, according to a study that found the brain was more “plastic” after 30 minutes of vigorous exercise.

The study involved a small group of healthy people aged in their late 20s to early 30s who rode exercise bikes. They were monitored for changes in the brain immediately after the exercise and again 15 minutes later.

“We saw positive changes in the brain straight away, and these improvements were sustained 15 minutes after the exercise had ended,” says research leader A/Prof Michael Ridding of The University of Adelaide.

“Plasticity in the brain is important for learning, memory and motor skill coordination. The more ‘plastic’ the brain becomes, the more it’s able to reorganise itself, modifying the number and strength of connections between nerve cells and different brain areas.”

Regular physical activity can have positive effects on brain function and plasticity, but it has not been known whether a stand-alone session of exercise would also have similar positive effects. “We now have evidence suggesting that it does,” Ridding says. “This exercise-related change in the brain may, in part, explain why physical activity has a positive effect on memory and higher-level functions.”

Ridding says there is now...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.