Struggling to absorb new information? New research has indicated that aerobic exercise such as running can promote the growth of neurons (neurogenesis) within the hippocampus of the brain which can enhance your ability to learn and perform spatially complex tasks.
The research studied the effects of sustained running, high-intensity interval training (HIT) and resistance training in rats over a period of six to eight weeks and examined the level of neurogenesis within the hippocampus.
The rats used had either a genetically high response to aerobic training (HRT) or a low response to aerobic training (LRT).
The results indicated that, in comparison to sedentary rats, the rats which ran for a sustained period of time and which had a genetically HRT, showed a greater level of neurogenesis. When compared to sedentary rats, the number of new neurons grown within the hippocampus was three times greater. However, the effects of HIT on neurogenesis was only small whilst resistance training had no effect at all on neuron growth.
The results therefore indicate that sustained aerobic exercise can promote neurogenesis and can increase the number of new neurons within the hippocampus. This neuron growth is important in order to help maximise learning ability and the ability to perform spatially complex tasks.
If you’re trying to absorb information or are struggling to learn a new skill, going for a long run therefore appears to be a good idea to promote brain activity.