1.17 Spark

The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain

1.17.1 A case study

Physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another.

Exercise provides an unparalleled stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing and able to learn. Aerobic activity has a dramatic effect on adaptation, regulating systems that might be out of balance and optimizing those that are not.

The ability to stop and consider a response, to use the experience of a wrong choice as a guide in making the next decision, relates to executive function, which is controlled by the prefrontal cortex.

1.17.2 Learning: grow your brain cells

Exercise influences learning at the cellular level, improving the brain’s potential to log in and process new information.

The brain is flexible, or plastic … The more you use it, the stronger and more flexible it becomes.

The brain is made up of one hundred billion neurons of various types that chat with one another by way of hundreds of different chemicals, to govern our every thought and action … The junction between cell branches is the synapse.