Can Weight Lifting Make Us Smarter?

February 16, 2011 Katharina Lochner

The Connection Between Physical and Mental Fitness

People with big muscles are not particularly smart. That’s what the cliché says. But is it true?

Endurance training and brain fitness seem to go hand in hand. It is a widely accepted finding that endurance training like for example running improves brain functioning because it increases blood movement into the brain and fosters the creation of new brain cells.

Researchers conducted a number of studies in which they wanted to find out whether the same applies to training with weights. In two studies reported by the New York Times, researchers found evidence that supports this idea. Rats that had lifted weights (by attaching them to their tails and making them climb ladders) or had run in loaded wheels did better on tests of memory and learning and had higher levels of a certain substance that makes neurons grow. According to the scientists who conducted the study, it is likely that the findings apply to humans as well. So not only endurance training, but also weight lifting and resistance training help making us smarter.

We know that a well-functioning brain is important for performance at work. The findings reported here imply that employees can improve their performance at work by physical exercise. This is an implication not only important to employees, but also to employers. They can help their employees improve their performance not only by motivating them like described in our last post on motivation, but also by encouraging them and giving them space to do sports.

About the Author

Katharina Lochner

Dr Katharina Lochner is the former research director for the cut-e Group which was acquired by Aon in 2017. Katharina is now a researcher and lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Europe in Iserlohn, Germany. In her role at cut-e, she applied the research in organizational and work psychology to real-world assessment practice. She has a strong expertise in the construction and evaluation of online psychometric tools.

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