Kenneth Nowack, Ph.D.


Ajax Sleeping

Do you ever wonder if leaders are losing their mind based on the stupid decisions or actions they tend to make? Maybe the phrase “losing it” really has some scientific backing. Indeed, all of us actually start to lose brain tissue as early as our third decade.

Maybe just working out will make you smarter.

An earlier 2003 study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that people who exercise lose brain tissue more slowly. Arthur Kramer, Ph.D. studying adults between the ages of 58 to 78 found that6 months of regular aerobic activity altered the middle frontal and superior parietal regions of the brain (responsible for concentration).

Kramer used MRI tests to show that those who exercised had denser brains than those who were inactive. It seems that leaders who are physically active lose brain tissue more slowly (Colcombe, S., Erickson, K., Raz, N., Webb, A., Cohen, N., McAuley, E. & Kramer, A. (2003). Aerobic fitness reduces brain tissue loss in aging humans. Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences. 58, 176-180).

A fairly recent recent study revealed that individuals who exercised for 6 months showed a significant increase in brain tissue responsible for higher level functioning like planning, goal setting and multitasking (Columbe, S., Erickson, K., Scalf, P., Kim, J., Prakash, R., McAuley, E., Ekavsky, S., Marquez, L, & Kramer, A. (2006). Aerobic exercise training increases brain volume in aging humans. Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences. 61, 1166-1170).

In this study, one group just walked three days a week for 45 minutes and the other control group did non-aerobic stretching exercises. After six months, MRI tests confirmed that the exercise group had a 2% increase in the prefrontal and temporal cortices – areas that show considerable age-related deterioration – incurred the greatest gains from aerobic exercise.

Based on these studies showing increased plasticity of the brain of leaders, aerobic activities are preferred over pushing your weight around, side stepping that issue, leaning on your top performer or jumping to conclusions. You gotta love Nike’s slogan….Be well….

[tags]fitness, exercise, brain plasticity, brain tissue, cognition, executive decision making, ken nowack, kenneth nowack[/tags]