For years, we exercised to get our hearts in shape and to look better. Those are still positive benefits from working out and becoming more physically fit. But there’s a growing mound of research that suggests that not only will exercise help us look better, it will help us think better.

“Exercise, the latest neuroscience suggests, does more to bolster thinking than thinking does,” writes Gretchen Reynolds in an interesting piece in the New York Times Magazine. Research reveals that cardio exercise actually builds new brain cells.

Swimming, jogging, or playing tennis, basketball or any other cardiovascular sport results in a brain that resists physical shrinkage (much as is the case with muscles) and enhances cognitive function.

We live in a sports-crazed society, but that’s only true from a fan perspective. After we leave high school or college, the vast majority of us stop playing sports. Adult participation in sports in this country is much lower than in other countries around the globe. In fact, less than 5% of Americans get their primary form of physical activity from team sports.

In an era of skyrocketing obesity and health care costs, that figure needs to rise.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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