Build Your Muscles, Build Your Brain

Exercise and learning go hand in hand. Physical activity not only facilitates the birth of new brain cells, it also produces smart chemicals that promote learning. Find out how you can reap the benefits when you keep your body (and brain!) healthy.

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Smart Exercises to Improve ADD/ADHD Brains

· Do an aerobic activity regularly -- jogging, riding a bike, playing a sport that involves sprinting or running. Aerobic exercise elevates neurotransmitters, creates new blood vessels that pipe in growth factors, and spawns new cells in the brain. One small, but scientifically sound, study from Japan found that jogging 30 minutes just two or three times a week for 12 weeks improved executive function.

· Do a skill activity, as well -- rock climbing, yoga, karate, Pilates, gymnastics, figure skating. Complex activities strengthen and expand the brain’s networks. The more complex the movements, the more complex the synaptic connections. Bonus: These new, stronger networks are recruited to help you think and learn.

· Better yet, do an activity that combines aerobic activity with a skill activity. Tennis is a good example -- it taxes both the cardiovascular system and the brain.

· Practice a skill activity in which you are paired up with another person -- learning to tango or waltz, for example, or to fence. You’re learning a new movement and also having to adjust to your partner’s movements, putting further demands on your attention and judgment. This exponentially increases the complexity of the activity, which beefs up the brain’s infrastructure. Add in the fun and social aspect of the activity, and you’re activating the brain and the muscles throughout the system.

Excerpted from Spark, by JOHN J. RATEY, M.D., and Eric Hagerman. Copyright © 2008 by John J. Ratey, M.D. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, N.Y. All rights reserved.

More About the Benefits of Exercise for ADD/ADHD Brains

How Exercise Boosts Brain Function
Exercise: An Alternative ADD/ADHD Treatment Without Side Effects
Take It Outside! Treating ADD/ADHD with Exercise


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TAGS: Exercise and ADHD, Brain Training for ADHD

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