For some odd reason, when we think of internal organs, we rarely think of our brains. But that wonderful, complex mass of neurological gray matter is also well served by the oxygen-rich blood that weight-bearing exercise sends coursing through our bodies.
Exercise has been clearly linked to an overall sense of well-being, and that includes our psychological state. We just feel better about ourselves when we're fit. A regimen of weight-bearing exercises can improve all forms of mental acuity, including heightened cognitive function (attention, processing and decision making) and short-term memory, while decreasing the risk of depression. It even enhances quality of sleep, which promotes mental clarity [source: Nied].
Think about that long, brisk walk that targets the major muscles of your lower body. Ever notice how much clearer you're thinking when you finish? Dr. Leroy Hood, co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, a groundbreaking biotech firm in Seattle, says he does some of his best work on the road -- running.
"To solve really hard problems, I have to think about the problem from every single vantage point that I can," Hood says. "Typically, where I've done that is while running. I always like to run alone, because when I run, I think. At those times, when you're free and unhindered, and you allow yourself to think about it from many different points of view, then all of a sudden your experiences get integrated into solutions, and that's the creative moment."
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