How Movement and Exercise Help Kids Learn

By Deborah Farmer Kris for kqed.org

Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki was a rising star in the field of memory when she looked around and realized that her lifestyle wasn’t sustainable.

“I was trying to get tenure, and I was doing nothing but work,” she says. “I had no friends outside of my lab. I knew I needed to do something. I thought, at least I can go to the gym and try to feel stronger.”

She signed up for the classes that “looked the most fun.” As she expected, her mood and fitness level improved – but she began to notice something else at play. “About a year and a half into that regular exercise routine, I was sitting at my desk writing a grant and this thought went through my mind, ‘Writing is going well!’ I had never had that thought before. Then I realized that all of my work had been going better recently, and the only major change I had made to my life was regularly working out.”

That observation prompted her to explore what exercise was doing to her brain. “My hippocampal memory was clearly better at remembering details and retrieving information.”

These days, Suzuki has switched her primary research focus to the cognitive benefits of exercise. She is the author of the book Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain and Do Everything Better, and gave a popular TED Talk on exercise and the brain.

Read more here.

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