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Study Hall: Cardio could make you smarter

Brooklyn Bridge running
Maybe it's time to try Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp? (Photo:


Thinking of tackling an MBA? Your SoulCycle classes and Central Park runs may help. According to a recent study published in Physiology and Behavior, frequent, sustained cardio could make you smarter.

The study: Past studies have shown that exercise increases both aerobic capacity (which is basically your ability to kill it during cardio) and learning ability. So, for this study, researchers set out to determine whether the two were directly connected: Did increased aerobic capacity, developed over time, contribute to learning ability? Or was it the endorphins from exercise enjoyment?

The researchers tested rats that were bred for running (marathon rodents!) on their cognitive ability—they had to learn to fetch food when they heard a certain tone and ignore a different tone.

The results: The rats with a higher aerobic capacity (a result of frequent cardio sessions, developed over time) outperformed the rats with a lower aerobic capacity. They better understood the task and adapted to changed rules better than their couch-potato counterparts.

What it means: Keep getting your heart rate up on a regular basis. Your work in the gym can boost your intellect as well as your fitness level. —Allison Becker