fitness

Research says there's one workout that can actually make you smarter.

Image: iStock.

Good news for runners (and motivational news for those of us who continually put it off): scientists have found that not only does the exercise have obvious physical benefits, it’s good for your brain too.

A new study published in the Journal of Physiology has found aerobic exercise increases neuron reserves in the area of the brain responsible for learning, the hippocampus.

The discovery was made after researchers from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland studied a group of rats over a six week period, in which they did sustained running (HRT), High Intensity Impact (HIIT) Training and resistance training on treadmills.

This group was then compared to a control group that remained sedentary.

Despite the gain in strength from the other workouts, the team found that only aerobic exercise (running) that had a positive effect on brain structure and function.

Watch: The Glow’s Lizzie gets put through her paces in Sam Wood’s ’28’ workout. (Post continues after video.)

“Compared to sedentary animals, HRT rats that ran voluntarily on a running wheel had two to three times more new hippocampal neurons at the end of the experiment,” said Lead researcher, Professor Heikki Kanulainen.

“Whether high-intensity interval training (HIIT), referring to alternating short bouts of very intense anaerobic exercise with recovery periods, or anaerobic resistance training (RT) has similar effects on AHN is unclear,” concluded researchers.

We can feel that ‘runner’s high’ coming on… (Post continues after gallery.)

Unfortunately, there’s a bit more to it than simply putting on your runners and going — your genes have some input too.

“In addition, individual genetic variation in the overall response to physical exercise likely plays a part in the effects of exercise on AHN but is less studied,” said the report.

Until then, we guess it can’t hurt to give it a go. Trivia night, here we come!

What other benefits do you get from running?