Research shows running is good for your brain

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Good for your heart, good for your muscles. Now new research shows running is good for your brain. (WLS)

Good for your heart, good for your muscles. Now new research shows running is good for your brain.

A pair of researchers at the University of Arizona found that running improves the connectivity of parts of the brain, kind of like playing a musical instrument.

Gabe Mogollon is an Arizona state champion middle school runner.

"Each day, I just kind of have like a mini goal to do whatever on my run, so once I'm done, I feel like I've done something for the day," he said.

Gene Alexander and David Raichlen compared MRIs of eleven collegiate runners and eleven non-runners.

"By looking at these scans, we were able to tell that the endurance athletes who engaged in a lot of physical activity had areas in the brain that were more active and more connected than the non-athletes," Alexander said.

The red shows more connection between parts of the brain responsible for memory, decision-making and multitasking. The yellow shows the same thing. This could be from increased blood flow or production of factors that help neurons work better and grow.

"What we know right now is that something is better than nothing and so more than likely you're going to get big bang for your buck if you go from very little activity to some activity," Raichlen said.

brain connectivity diminishes as we age and is a factor in diseases like Alzheimer's. What the researchers learn from young runners now, could help aging adults later.

"We're hoping to find ways in which we can use exercise to improve the brain function structure as we age and provide recommendations and prescriptions for better aging," Alexander said

So even in his teens, Gabe is on the right track.

Increased brain connectivity has also been found in people who do activities using fine motor skills like playing musical instruments.

The researchers say running also takes complex thinking, as athletes navigate or plan where to run or how to keep balance.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at

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