Few days ago a friend introduced a book “Born To Run” (which now stays in to-read list) and a concept of constant running, which implies that we are designed to run. Even though it is hard to believe we are born to run literally, it is easy to imagine that at some point we stopped climbing trees and started walking miles per day, including running, to get the food supplies and have a better living. According to human development researchers, man could have walked around 10-20 kilometers a day and woman around 5-10 kilometers a day. Given the fact that our development of brains happened at the same time of being in constant motion, does that mean that exercise still influences our cognitive skills?
We know that exercise improves the health, since exercising enhances cardiovasculat fitness, thus reducing various deseases, such as heart attacks and stroke, but what about mental state? It appears that people who exercise outperform those who do not exercise in terms of long-term memory (but not the short-term memory), reasoning, attention and problem solving.
In one research 20 minutes walk each day for elderly people reduced the risk of having a stroke by 57%. In a research of ten thousand British civil servants between ages of 35 and 55 it was discovered that low level of physical activity correlated with poor cognitive performance.
In another very interesting study children who jogged for 30 min two or three times a week had increased cognitive performance after 4 months, but returned to the same levels after stopped jogging. What is surprising, cognitive performance also increased the same way just with an extra oxygen and no exercise. It looks like we need an exercise to get the oxygen.
Biologically exercise increases blood flow, which results in body making more blood vessels, which go into the body, delivering food and disposing toxic waste. Since the brain consumes 20% of energy, this dinning and detoxication process is esential to have a good cognitive performance. Moreover, some researches show that exercise for labaratory animals had stimulated the brain parts that are responsible for development of new cells in the brains, neurogenesis.
Given all these findings, perhaps it would not look so strange if one day business meetings would be done walking. Without prior thought, I can now have better explanation why I enjoy more to take long walks with friends for deeper discussions instead of going to a cafe or bar. Maybe this could enlighten another underused source of productivity. Maybe listening to an audiobook while walking could be an important source of learning.