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Brain Rules: Rule #1: Exercise Boosts Brain Power

This semester the Instructor Development team is reading "Brain Rules" by John Medina. Once a week we'll take turns posting a small blog post here in the community to share some of the lessons we are learning as a team. We'd love it if you read along and/or joined in the conversation here in the community. The BYU-Idaho Library has several digital copies of the book available, click here for the ebook. 


Rule #1: Exercise Boosts Brain Power

Key Points

- Early humans walked and ran up to 20 kilometers a day. Human cognitive skills were forged in the furnace physical activity. 

- Examples like Jack La Lanne (Jumping Jacks) and Frank Lloyd Wright are examples of those who have aged with very sharp cognitive skills.

- Research shows that exercisers outperform couch potatoes in just about every mental test. 

- The gold standard remains that 30 minutes of exercise, 2-3 times a week is ideal. Adding strength training added to the cognitive benefit. 

- Research is showing that exercise fights the disorders such as depression, dementia, and Alzheimers. 

- A little exercise goes a long way. Any form of exercise just twice a week and the benefits start to show themselves. 

- Exercise is like building and improving a road infrastructure for your body. The more you exercise the more you get your blood flowing and delivering services to the various organs in your body. That includes delivering vital nutrients and removing waste. 

What about you? What do you do for exercise? What cognitive benefits have you seen in your life and in the life of your students as a result from exercise? What goals have you set for yourself for exercise this year? 

BYU-Idaho Temple to Temple Relay 2016. 


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  • This sounds like a really interesting read!  As I have been teaching my students, I will be looking for reliable, reproducible observations that are based on rationale models. :)  John Medina is definitely an expert, but I will be curious to see what sources he bases his information on!  Since I have a daughter who has had a left brain hemispherectomy, I am especially interested in this topic.  I have ordered the book and am excited to read along with you!  Thanks!

  • When my husband passed away, I turned to something that I really had no experience with...exercise. Now, 20 months later, I weigh 30 pounds less, I am a certified personal trainer and I am working toward becoming a Registered Nurse Health and Wellness coach. Exercise (and healthy eating) changed the experience of the loss of my spouse. I have been able to cope and deal with the challenges as they have come because I am physically strong and I have clearer thinking. I have made friends at the gym who are supportive and I am now able to reach out to others who need help gaining control of their lives. What a huge blessing from my Heavenly Father to guide me toward the things I needed most during the darkest time of my life.

    • Michelle,

      Thank you for sharing your story.  It is very inspiring.

    • That's a great success story Michelle. What kind of exercise are you into? 

      • I love to dance, so I do Zumba and Ballet Barre. I also do Body Gym. I am actually on the informercial for that piece of equipment with Marie Osmond. You can see me on QVC! I love doing fun things like hiking, climbing, and snowshoeing. I wasn't able to do much of this before I got into shape. I do strength training at least 2x per week as well. 

        • What don't you do?

        • That's awesome! We know someone famous. 

  • I was introduced to a workout program called mutu system that I am enjoying. I also go walking at the I Center track in the mornings with a friend. Working out with a friend helps motivate me to get going.

  • I'm about 6 months into my first serious exercise habit for over 25 years.  I am strength training (weights) 30 minutes/3 days a week and doing cardio (mostly stair machine) for 30 minutes/2 days a week.  I do it during my lunch break - I'm blessed to be on campus with access to the fitness center.  I think I'm in better physical condition than I have ever been - even during high school sports.  I listen to Mormon Channel podcasts many of which are conveniently 30 minutes long.  Prior to starting it took me about 6 months of thinking about it and working out my motivation before I knew I would do it no matter what - that's the key.  

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