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Brain Rules

12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School

By John Medina
  • Read in 15 minutes
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Brain Rules by John Medina

Brain Rules (2008) gives you insight into how our brains function and explains how you can take advantage of such knowledge to push your brain to work better. From gaining more productivity at work to absorbing more at school, mastering the “brain rules” will help make learning with all your senses become second nature.

Key idea 1 of 9

Regular exercise stimulates the body to renew itself and generates hormones to help the brain work.

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a Homo sapiens looked like? How our ancestors spent their time directly affected how our own brains have developed.

Consider that the average Homo sapiens may have walked or ran from 10 to 20 kilometers per day. This means that our brains didn’t develop while we were lazing about, but as we exercised.

Exercise allows your body to get more energy out of the food you eat. When you exercise, you increase blood flow to all your body’s tissues. And as your blood flow increases, your body also starts to produce new blood vessels, making it even easier for your blood to do its job, such as move vitamins and minerals around and get rid of waste.

So when you move your body, not only do you feel better but you think more effectively, too!

To better understand what’s happening in this process, think about a system of roads. In the early 1800s, an English engineer noticed that traders had a tough time moving supplies over uneven dirt roads. He developed a method to coat roads with layers of rock and gravel to make them more even and thus more reliable.

The engineer’s idea quickly spread as people realized better roads meant better access to goods in general. You make the same improvements to your body when you exercise, as your blood vessels are essentially your body's roads.

Exercise also makes your body’s tissues healthier by stimulating the production of certain hormones such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

One of the brain's most powerful growth hormones, BDNF keeps your neurons refreshed and healthy and increases the connections between neurons. It also stimulates the creation of new cells.

So the more you exercise, the healthier and more robust your brain and body will be!

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