Don’t Stop Running

Kim Olson/

Kim Olson/

Our brains get lots of benefits from running and other forms of cardiovascular exercise, according to a study presented at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans last fall and reported in the New York Times Well blog.

There’s just one catch: Stop running, and the benefits of exercise don’t seem to last very long.

The study looked at two groups of rats — one that was allowed to run whenever they wanted on running wheels, while the other was forced to remain sedentary. The rats that got lots of exercise, researchers found, performed much better in memory tests than those that didn’t.

But after they took a few weeks off, the exercised rats lost their edge, researchers found.

“Brain changes are not maintained when regular physical exercise is interrupted,” he said, adding that, “though our observations are restricted to rats, indirect evidence suggests that the same phenomenon occurs in human beings.”

Meaning that the lessons of both studies point in the same direction. For the ongoing health of our minds, as well as for the plentiful other health benefits of exercise, it might be wise to stick to those New Year’s exercise resolutions.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

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