Short, powerful exercise bursts are great for your bod but also boost brain power

By J.D.

If you were looking for yet another reason to try Survival Legion workouts, I’ve got a good one for you: They may make you smarter.

I know, I know…but hear me out.

There has been a lot written in the paste about how it’s possible to get some really good mental health benefits just from engaging in regular exercise. But new studies are showing that doing some higher-intensity workouts in the morning, even if for a shortened period of time — could actually boost your brain power and make you smarter.

According to researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), they have discovered a gene in mice that is activated only by short-burst exercise.

The gene is similar to one in humans that serve as primers in the brain for learning. Called Mtss1L, the gene works to improve connections between neurons in the hippocampus, that part of your noggin that is linked to higher learning and memory.

Previous research on both animals and human beings has shown that regular workouts and exercise improves brain function and health generally. However, researchers have had difficulty in locating and isolating the parts of the brain that are essentially switched on by exercise and how they are improved.

“Previous studies of exercise almost all focus on sustained exercise,” explains lead researcher Dr. Gary Westbrook, senior scientist at the OHSU Vollum Institute and a professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine, in a statement. “As neuroscientists, it’s not that we don’t care about the benefits on the heart and muscles but we wanted to know the brain-specific benefit of exercise.” notes:

The researchers created an experiment that measured the brain’s response to single, short bouts of exercise in otherwise sedentary mice. The mice were placed on running wheels for short periods of time and ran a few kilometers in two hours. When extrapolated to human equivalents, the exercise is about the same as 4,000 steps.

Researchers found an increase in synapses in the mice’s hippocampus after the running session. They found that the gene Mtss1L increased during exercise. This gene, which had been largely ignored in earlier studies, is responsible for encoding a protein that causes the bending of the cell membrane, promoting growths on neurons where synapses form.

“Exercise is cheap, and you don’t necessarily need a fancy gym membership or have to run 10 miles a day,” Westbrook noted.

Here at Survival Legion, many of our workouts are very high intensity and short in duration — like doing various rounds of certain exercises for time. You can check some of those out on Workouts page and actually see some of them on our Videos page.

Are these going to make you smarter? Well, we’re going to have to defer to the experts and say research would indicate…yes!

J. D. Dougherty, a former paramedic, firefighter, and 15-year military veteran of OEF, is co-founder of Survival Legion, a vet-owned company that stresses functional fitness and draws it’s uniqueness from the Roman Legions.

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