By Bob Walsh
Over the years I’ve never understood why most programmers are content to rest on their (ever-growing) laurels when it comes to exercise. Maybe because I started exercising when I was a reporter in San Francisco in my pre-programmer days that I’ve always at least tried to exercise regularly.
In the past, I’ve always hectored my fellow programmers about the stress reduction, medical and physical benefits of exercise. It turns out there’s now plenty of evidence physical exercise makes you smarter as well.

Research shows that aerobic exercise actually increases brain mass by growing new capillaries, which is associated with an increase in neural activity. In addition, exercise increases levels of many brain chemicals, including norepinephrine and serotonin (linked to improved mood, self esteem, impulse control, and greater focus) and dopamine, which is the major driver of the attention center of the brain.
“There is nothing that affects brain neuroplasticity as much as exercise. It causes a rapid and persistent uptick in the factors and chemicals that enhance learning and mood. Every week, 4-8 papers are released in the neuroscience literature on the positive effects of exercise on the brain.”

The above is from Dr. Edward Hallowell (author of CrazyBusy and a leading expert in ADD in all of its forms) quoting Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey who’s upcoming book of exercise and the brain has already generated media attention.
“I’ve said for years that exercise is like Miracle-Gro for the brain,” Ratey said in a Chicago Tribune story. “But now we’re learning so much more about it, and just how much exercise causes a huge increase in the growth factors in the brain.”
So, if you feel like your brain needs an upgrade to deal with the complexities of IT today, maybe you need to start working out (again).
[tags] Brains, exercise[/tags]

1 Comment

  1. I can’t say about the Miracle-Gro aspects of excercise :), but during the last few weeks I’ve been pushing hard to finish some development. The routine is to get up between 4:30-4:50, work for a few hours, hit the office, and exercise either at lunch or before going home. I’ve found that it is hard to get out of bed the next day if I miss a workout. Those old mind-games about the pillow, comforter, and snooze-button return. The days after I get in a workout are no problem. Add an exercise-related goal (I’ve talked a friend into racing at an indoor-regatta in February, loser buys a pints of Guinness.), and you have a pretty good way to keep on track.

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