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Medical Team: Get smarter, Get moving!

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

It's a simple concept: if you want to get smarter, get moving!

And you don't have to do a lot to give your brain a boost.

Harvard Medical School professor and psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey says, "Even with two to three minutes, if you're really moving, your brain is going to change. Your brain is going to be more ready to pay attention, to stay with it, to take in information."

Dr. Ratey says that for years researchers have known exercise can improve how we feel, boosting our mood.

But only in the last 15 years, have they realized working out can boost brain function, too. Speaking recently at Spellman Colleg, Dr. Ratey explained how as your muscles wake up, so do your brain cells.

He says, "When you're moving, you use more brain cells than any other human activity. And these same brain cells that are moving, that are clicking away, and firing away, are the same brain cells we use to learn." It makes them tougher, it makes then ready to do what they're supposed to do."

At a time schools are cutting back on physical education, Dr. Ratey is convinced daily exercise is the secret weapon to help students perform better, even score higher on tests. He recommends giving kids (and adults, you can try this, too!) "brain breaks" several times a day.

Brain breaks are quick ways to get your heart pumping. Ratey explains, "Even three to five minutes of exercise, of doing hip-hop dancing, of doing jumping jacks, jumping rope, will turn your brain on. It will make you, for the next two hours, much more focused. (So you are) much less stressed, much less impulsive."

For the most benefit, experts recommend trying to get in an hour of moderate exercise 5 days a week, combining aerobic workout with strength-training. Most of the brain-exercise research has involved aerobic exercise like walking or running. And the effect can be immediate, boosting brain function for 2 hours. Dr. Ratey says, "The day that you exercise you'll be a little bit brighter, a little bit smarter. A little bit more on."

And working out boosts your mood, too. So - if you're not on your game - just go do it! A little sweat may just make you smarter!

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