Tag Archives: John J. Ratey

Can Exercise Help Me To Learn?

“Exercise helps you to learn on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus,” so says Spark, the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Author John J. Ratey, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Besides, Spark, he also wrote A User’s Guide to the Brain among other books.

The hippocampus plays a major role in the consolidation of information from long term memory and short term memory. So, clearly, exercise plays an important role for seniors who are concerned about their memory failing in their latter years.

One distinction needs to be made here. You can’t learn difficult material while you are exercising because blood is shunted away from the prefrontal cortex and this hampers your executive function. Dr. Ratey quotes a study of college students who were working out on treadmills and exercise bikes at a high rate. They performed poorly on tests of complex learning. “However blood flow shifts back almost immediately after you finish exercising, and this is the perfect time to focus on a project that demands sharp thinking and complex analysis.”

He enumerates an experiment that was done on 40 adults aged 50 to 64. They were asked to do one 35 minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Afterwards, they were asked to list alternative uses for common objects, like a newspaper. It is used for reading, but can be used to wrap fish, line a bird cage, etc. Half of the group watched a movie and the other half exercised. They were tested three times, before the session, immediately after the session and then 20 minutes later. The results of the movie watchers showed no change, but the runners improved their processing speed and cognitive flexibility after just one session. “Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses. The trait correlates with high performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs.” The doctor recommends going for a short, intense run at lunchtime ahead of an important brain-storming session at work.

spark-book I have enjoyed Dr. Ratey’s book and recommend it to readers of the blog. You can get a look at the book on the Amazon website and purchase it from there if you like it.

As regular readers know, I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. I am a total believer in this exercise-learning hypothesis. If I don’t ride my bike every day, I manage a five mile walk, climb 30 flights of stairs, or take a trip to the health club. I ain’t sittin’ around doin’ nothin’.

I have repeated the phrase, Use it or Lose it time and again in this blog. In this case, using the body promotes healthy mental processes as well as good physical results.

Tony

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Does Exercise Reduce Our Chances of Alzheimer’s?

Regular readers know how strongly I feel about including exercise in our daily life. This is not just for weight control, but because our bodies are organic machines that need to move and be maintained. In addition, exercise also benefits the brain.

19393.jpgA study done at the Karolinska Institute found that seniors who had high glucose levels, but did not have diabetes, were 77 per cent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The study took over nine years and covered 1173 individuals over the age of 75.

As reported in the book, Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, “As we age, insulin levels drop and glucose has a harder time getting into the cells to fuel them. Then glucose can skyrocket, which creates waste products in the cells – such as free radicals – and damages blood vessels, putting us at risk of a stroke and Alzheimer’s. When everything is balanced, insulin works against the buildup of amyloid plaque, but too much encourages the buildup, as well as inflammation, damaging surrounding neurons.

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Can Exercise Help Me to Live Longer?

As I have written repeatedly in the blog, exercise is one of the keys to healthy aging as well as healthy living. Here is a super explanation of the impact of aerobic exercise on the cardiovascular system from the book Spark. You can read about it here by Dr. John Ratey, author of A User’s Guide to the Brain.

He says hopefully that when people come to accept that exercise is as important for the brain as it is for the heart they will commit to it.

Regarding the cardiovascular system, he writes, “A strong heart and lungs reduce resting blood pressure. The result is less strain on the vessels in the body and the brain. There are a number of mechanisms at work here.

“First, contracting muscles during exercise releases growth factors …. Aside from their in helping neurons bind and promoting neurogenesis, they trigger a molecular chain reaction that produces endolethial cells,which make up the inner lining of blood vessels and thus are important for building new ones. These inroads expand the vascular network, bringing each area of the brain that much closer to a lifeline and creating redundant circulation routes that protect against future blockages.
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12 Mental Benefits of Exercise – Infographic

I feel very strongly about the idea that the brain benefits from exercise. I think the benefits to the brain are totally overlooked by most fitness writers when, in fact, they may be the most important.

“Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being” according to Jahn Ratey, MD and author of Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (available on Amazon).

Please check out my Page Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise) for more details.

ee2bd0a077df637f56733ae22d342ba6Tony

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Can Exercise Help Me To Learn?

“Exercise helps you to learn on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus,” so says Spark, the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Author John J. Ratey, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Besides, Spark, he also wrote A User’s Guide to the Brain among other books.

The hippocampus plays a major role in the consolidation of information from long term memory and short term memory. So, clearly, exercise plays an important role for seniors who are concerned about their memory failing in their latter years.

One distinction needs to be made here. You can’t learn difficult material while you are exercising because blood is shunted away from the prefrontal cortex and this hampers your executive function. Dr. Ratey quotes a study of college students who were working out on treadmills and exercise bikes at a high rate. They performed poorly on tests of complex learning. “However blood flow shifts back almost immediately after you finish exercising, and this is the perfect time to focus on a project that demands sharp thinking and complex analysis.”

He enumerates an experiment that was done on 40 adults aged 50 to 64. They were asked to do one 35 minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Afterwards, they were asked to list alternative uses for common objects, like a newspaper. It is used for reading, but can be used to wrap fish, line a bird cage, etc. Half of the group watched a movie and the other half exercised. They were tested three times, before the session, immediately after the session and then 20 minutes later. The results of the movie watchers showed no change, but the runners improved their processing speed and cognitive flexibility after just one session. “Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses. The trait correlates with high performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs.” The doctor recommends going for a short, intense run at lunchtime ahead of an important brain-storming session at work.

spark-book I have enjoyed Dr. Ratey’s book and recommend it to readers of the blog. You can get a look at the book on the Amazon website and purchase it from there if  you like it.

As regular readers know, I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. I am a total believer in this exercise-learning hypothesis. If I don’t ride my bike every day, I manage a five mile walk, climb 30 flights of stairs, or take a trip to the health club. I ain’t sittin’ around doin’ nothin’.

I have repeated the phrase, Use it or Lose it time and again in this blog. In this case, using the body promotes healthy mental processes as well as good physical results.

Tony

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Filed under aging, brain, Exercise, John J Ratey MD, memory, Spark

Does Exercise Reduce Our Chances of Alzheimer’s?

Regular readers know how strongly I feel about including exercise in our daily life. This is not just for weight control, but because our bodies are organic machines that need to move and be maintained. In addition, exercise also benefits the brain.

A study done at the Karolinska Institute found that seniors who had high glucose levels, but did not have diabetes, were 77 per cent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The study took over nine years and covered 1173 individuals over the age of 75.

As reported in the book, Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, “As we age, insulin levels drop and glucose has a harder time getting into the cells to fuel them. Then glucose can skyrocket, which creates waste products in the cells – such as free radicals – and damages blood vessels, putting us at risk of a stroke and Alzheimer’s. When everything is balanced, insulin works against the buildup of amyloid plaque, but too much encourages the buildup, as well as inflammation, damaging surrounding neurons.

“Exercise increases levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which regulates insulin in the body and improves synaptic plasticity in the brain. By drawing down surplus fuel, exercise also blosters our supply of BDNF, which is reduced by high glucose.”

Wikipedia says that In neuroscience, synaptic plasticity is the ability of the connection, or synapse, between two neurons to change in strength in response to either use or disuse of transmission over synaptic pathways. Plastic change also results from the alteration of the number of receptors located on a synapse. There are several underlying mechanisms that cooperate to achieve synaptic plasticity, including changes in the quantity of neurotransmitters released into a synapse and changes in how effectively cells respond to those neurotransmitters. Since memories are postulated to be represented by vastly interconnected networks of synapses in the brain, synaptic plasticity is one of the important neurochemical foundations of learning and memory.

BDNF is a crucial biological link between thought, emotions and movement.

So, it seems that exercise does in fact reduce our chances of Alzheimer’s. Eat less; move more; live longer.

Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) to read further on this subject.

Tony

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Can Exercise Help Me to Live Longer?

As I have written repeatedly in the blog, exercise is one of the keys to healthy aging as well as healthy living. Here is a super explanation of the impact of aerobic exercise on the cardiovascular system from the book Spark. You can read about it here by Dr. John Ratey, author of A User’s Guide to the Brain.

He says hopefully that when people come to accept that exercise is as important for the brain as it is for the heart they will commit to it.

Regarding the cardiovascular system, he writes, “A strong heart and lungs reduce resting blood pressure. The result is less strain on the vessels in the body and the brain. There are a number of mechanisms at work here.

“First, contracting muscles during exercise releases growth factors …. Aside from their in helping neurons bind and promoting neurogenesis, they trigger a molecular chain reaction that produces endolethial cells,which make up the inner lining of blood vessels and thus are important for building new ones. These inroads expand the vascular network, bringing each area of the brain that much closer to a lifeline and creating redundant circulation routes that protect against future blockages.
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Plato on Exercise

In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means man can attain perfection. Plato.

Frontispiece to Spark by John J. Ratey, MD With Eric Hagerman

Spark covers The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Published by Little, Brown.

I have written repeatedly about the connection of exercise and the brain. Please check my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Or simply click on the brain links in tags for more.

Tony

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Exercise Has Real Benefits for the Brain

The brain has similar needs to other organs. It needs glucose, oxygen and other nutrients. There are very real concrete benefits to exercising that directly affect the brain.

“I like to say that exercise is like taking a little Prozac or a little Ritalin at just the right moment,” says John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of A User’s Guide to the Brain.spark-book

“Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being” according to WebMD.

The benefits of exercise on the brain include the following:
– One of the most exciting changes that exercise causes is neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons. The new neurons are created in the hippocampus, the center of learning and memory in the brain, according to Oregon Health and Science University.

The course I am taking on Optimizing Brain Fitness
cites the following benefits:
– increased blood flow, oxygen and increased capillaries around neurons
– increased production of new neurons and more interconnections between them.
– protection of dopamine neurons from toxins in the environment
– leads to elevations in nerve growth factors.
– affects prefrontal executive processes, preferentially enhanced.
– brings about a positive balance in neurotransmitters just like in anti-depressants.

The Franklin Institute says that walking is especially good, because it increases blood circulation and the oxygen and glucose that reach your brain. Walking is not strenuous, so your leg muscles don’t take up extra oxygen and glucose like they do during other forms of exercise. As you walk, you effectively oxygenate your brain. Maybe this is why walking can “clear your head” and help you to think better.
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