Oxygen. It fuels your muscles during a workout, and, according to this article from HealthDay, also sharpens your mind. In a study of 52 healthy young women, the group who exercised regularly had more oxygen circulating in their brain and performed better on mental tests than their less active peers. Interestingly, active women did especially well on tasks that required them to suppress their reflexes and respond with self-control.1 Previous studies have shown similarly positive cognitive results in older adults as well.
How much oxygen your muscles use (VO2) depends both on getting blood to the muscles and extracting oxygen from the blood into the muscle tissue. Your working muscles can take oxygen out of the blood three times as well as your resting muscles.2 VO2 is an indicator of cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
According to this article from IANS, astronauts on the space station are currently researching VO2 Peak, the maximum rate of oxygen consumption during an exercise, to see how they can increase their VO2 Max, the maximum oxygen consumption rate for an individual. Findings show that V02 Peak is best maintained or even improved with frequent bouts of high intensity exercise. “More aerobically fit individual’s cells take up and use more oxygen,” said Megan Down, senior researcher at NASA.3
It’s all good news for fitness lovers: physical activity boosts your oxygen supply and results in numerous health benefits. So next time you hit the gym, breath easy. Your heart—and mind—will thank you.
1 HealthDay. “Exercise May Tone Up Women’s Bodies and Minds” 23 January 2015. www.nlm.nih.gov. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_150572.html> 18 February 2015.
2 Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D. “How Exercise Works” 07 March 2008. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/diet-fitness/exercise/sports-physiology.htm> 18 February 2015.
3 Indo Asian News Service. “Astronauts’ exercise regime reveals how to stay fit” 15 February 2015. In.news.yahoo.com. < https://in.news.yahoo.com/astronauts-exercise-regime-reveals-stay-fit-085616237.html> 18 February 2015