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Exercise = smarter?

We all know that exercise is said to be good for you for a variety of reasons. But to make you smarter? Newsweek raises the question in a feature article. It looks like the upcoming Easter break might just be the time to dust off that unused and unloved exercise "equipment" [which might simply be your old tired body] and get cracking on getting fit - and smart!

"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."

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