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Did You Know Running Was Labeled A Thinking Person's Sport As It Requires A High Level Of...
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Did You Know Running Was Labeled A Thinking Person's Sport As It Requires A High Level Of Thought?

While most of us consider running to be almost an instinctive feat, we forget that we never hit the ground running from the onset. We acquired this skill, progressively, after stumbling several times in attempting to do so over time and through practice. Unlike what we would otherwise imagine, running is more than the mindless act of putting one foot in front of the other; it is a cerebral process that is complex in nature. A recent study published this month in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience disclosed that competitive runners had numerous connections in the brain that aided in sophisticated cognition, which was missing in the brains of a healthy sedentary individual in comparison.

Thinking man

runnersworld.com

There have been studies in the past that have exhibited higher cognition and focus on particular parts of the brains of people who performed activities, such as playing a musical instrument or a sport like badminton regularly. In the light of these findings, a study led by researchers at the University of Arizona set out to examine just how much an activity like running could affect thinking patterns on the whole, given that it might be quite an intellectually demanding activity. They recruited 11 competitive collegiate male runners and 11 runners who hadn’t exercised the previous year. They didn't use women for the test due to the concerns that related to effects the menstrual cycle had on the brains of young women.

Neurological connections

abstract.desktopnexus.com

The subjects were put into M.R.I scanners to measure the activity in their brains. Surprisingly, the runners' brains exhibited several different neurological connections that are usually required for a higher level of thought compared to those displayed by sedentary men. It also highlighted a significant number of connections that are linked to helping the brain multitask, make decisions, maintain its attention on something, and process visual and sensory information. There was also notably less activity on the part of the brain that is related to a lack of focus and mind wandering for runners. Considering that runners are a focused bunch of individuals, this bit may not come as a surprise to most! 

Running as a complex activity

lavanguardia.com

Although the study demonstrates running not to be the simple activity it has been perceived to be, it doesn't state that runners possess a different thought process altogether. It only demonstrated that runners had certain strong patterns of thought. One of the leading researchers of the study, a professor of psychology, neurology, and physical sciences at the University of Arizona, Gene E. Alexander, suggest that as an activity running seems to be similar to solving a math puzzle. It requires sophisticated navigation skills, an ability to plan, assess and respond to environmental conditions alongside the act of running, which in itself requires a high level of motor activity. 

Now there's another welcomed notch on the long list highs runners’ experience.

 

 
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