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Get on your bike to boost brain power

Posted by Graham Carr 5 July 2012

It was my first day working with a new client and I was eager to impress. I tossed my briefcase and laptop into the car, turned the ignition key and- nothing. There was only one thing for it: my stuff  was quickly transferred to a rucksack and out came my trusty Specialized Allez Elite road bike for the 10-mile journey to the client’s offices.

As well as making a memorable first impression (particularly on the employees who witnessed me changing out of lycra shorts in the gents’ toilets) I felt absolutely great and gave a lively presentation. There are medical reasons for the “high” I experienced, something to do with endorphins. These are produced during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm. Obviously I didn’t do all of these on my way to the office (there was no time to stop for a curry), but you get the idea.

UK cycling website  gives 30 reasons for taking up cycling. These include increasing your brain power. Researchers from Illinois University apparently found that a five percent improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests. That’s because cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the region responsible for memory, which deteriorates from the age of 30.

“It boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which fires and regenerates receptors, explaining how exercise helps ward off Alzheimer’s,” says the study’s author, Professor Arthur Kramer.

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