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Stronger, Faster, Smarter

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Submitted By genuinelefty
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Stronger, Faster, Smarter. By: Carmichael, Mary, Newsweek, 00289604, 3/26/2007, Vol. 149, Issue 13
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Stronger, Faster, Smarter
Section: Health for Life
Exercise does more than build muscles and help prevent heart disease. New science shows that it also boosts brainpower--and may offer hope in the battle against Alzheimer's.
The stereotype of the "dumb jock" has never sounded right to Charles Hillman. A jock himself, he plays hockey four times a week, but when he isn't body-checking his opponents on the ice, he's giving his mind a comparable workout in his neuroscience and kinesiology lab at the University of Illinois. Nearly every semester in his classroom, he says, students on the women's cross-country team set the curve on his exams. So recently he started wondering if there was a vital and overlooked link between brawn and brains--if long hours at the gym could somehow build up not just muscles, but minds. With colleagues, he rounded up 259 Illinois third and fifth graders, measured their body-mass index and put them through classic PE routines: the "sit-and-reach," a brisk run and timed push-ups and sit-ups. Then he checked their physical abilities against their math and reading scores on a statewide standardized test. Sure enough, on the whole, the kids with the fittest bodies were the ones with the fittest brains, even when factors such as socioeconomic status were taken into account. Sports, Hillman concluded, might indeed be boosting the students' intellect--and also, as long as he didn't "take a puck to the head," his own.
Hillman's study, which will be published later this year, isn't definitive enough to stand alone. But it doesn't have to: it's part of a recent and rapidly growing movement in science showing that exercise can make people smarter. Last…...

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