Reason number 284,307 to exercise regularly…
The evidence in the “exercise is totally necessary” column just keeps on mounting: According to a new study, trips to the gym aren’t just essential to ensuring your body stays as healthy as possible—they’re also necessary for your brain.
The study appears in Trends in Neuroscience and suggests that the relationship between the brain and exercise is part of our evolutionary history.
Let’s back it up a bit: Researchers theorize that while humans tend to be pretty sedentary these days, if you trace our origins, people actually led incredibly active lifestyles when hunting and gathering were necessary. The physically demanding nature of those early days may have created a significant mind-body connection.
What does this mean for modern-day humans? A lot, actually: Researchers believe this connection may explain why exercise may improve memory and executive function. They even believe that greater understanding of the link between the brain and exercise may lead to improved treatment of cognitive decline or even neurodegenerative diseases.
“It’s very odd to think that moving your body should affect your brain in this way—that exercise should have some beneficial impact on brain structure and function—but if you start thinking about it from an evolutionary perspective, you can start to piece together why that system would adaptively respond to exercise challenges and stresses,” researcher David Raichlen said, according to a release for the news from the University of Arizona.