Anyone who’s trained for a big race or event knows that you get stronger the longer you exercise consistently, but a new study shows that that’s not just the case for your body, but also your brain.
This study, by the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, is the first to show the cognitive effects that long-term training can have on people who exercise consistently.
The participants took fMRI scans and memory tests before and after single exercise sessions over a 12 week training program. They found that those who showed the biggest improvement after one session also showed the most improvement over time.
"There is a strong and direct link between physical activity and how your brain works," says Wendy Suzuki of New York University. "People still do not link physical health to brain and cognitive health; they think about fitting into a bikini or losing that last pound, not about all the brain systems they are improving and enhancing every time they work out."
But your brain really does get a workout when your body does - and this study looks at not just the short term benefits, but the long-term ones as well, and shows that the short term effect actually mirror the long-term ones.
That is, if your brain shows a boost after a workout, it’s likely to predict the same for long-term training, so if you’re looking for a reason to hit the gym, now there’s one more.