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Exercise Builds Brain Cells

You're walking or jogging regularly--and maybe you're even biking, swimming and playing tennis too. If so, you may be reading Anne Strieber's diet book. You're ALSO growing new brain cells!

In LiveScience.com, Jeanna Bryner reports that exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells--in rats anyway. Scientists assume it does the same for us humans. Research is increasingly showing that aging doesn't automatically result in a steady erosion of brain cells. Rather, older adults who work their brains can develop new connections between brain cells.

When it comes to physical exercise, taking a break in the middle of your workout may metabolize more fat than exercising without stopping. Japanese researchers conducted the first known study to compare these two exercise methods: exercising continually in one long bout versus breaking up the same workout with a rest period. Kazushige Goto says, "Many people believe prolonged exercise will be optimal in order to reduce body fat, but our study has shown that repetitions of shorter exercise may cause enhancements of fat mobilization and utilization during and after the exercise. These findings will be informative about the design of [future] exercise regimens. Most people are reluctant to perform a single bout of prolonged exercise. The repeated exercise with shorter bouts of exercise will be a great help [in keeping up with fitness]." While these studies refer to physical exercise, another study shows that a brain workout--using our minds in a wide variety of new and challenging ways--can activate cells throughout the brain.

The left brain, which (in right handers anyway) is in charge of language, number and reasoning activities, can be exercised by reading, writing, learning a new language, completing number or work games, balancing your checkbook without a calculator and fixing broken objects.

The right brain--the creative domain that's in charge of music, art and the imagination--can be exercised by reviving a musical talent, singing in a choir, knitting, quilting or taking art classes.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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