Nutrition & Health

Why Long-Distance Running Will Make You Smarter

(Flickr - Phil Roeder)
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(Flickr - Phil Roeder) (Flickr – Phil Roeder)

If you’re friends with (or are) a cross country runner, you’ve probably heard them say something like, “My sport is your sport’s punishment.”

It’s a proud moment for long-distance runners to know that the events they train all season to perform better and faster aren’t just something other student-athletes look on with a sense of “I don’t think I can do that” — but are actually things that other student-athletes dread.

Here’s another reason for long-distance runners to celebrate

Any type of exercise makes you feel good. Getting ready for the next big game, showing the potential you have as a college athlete and the sheer draw of the chemicals that flood your body after a good workout — they all make for a great reason to stay a student-athlete.

But according to a recent study, distance running also helps exercise your brain, the New York Times reports.

Since it was in a lab, there are the obligatory lab rats that scientists experimented on, but:

Those rats that had jogged on wheels showed robust levels of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue teemed with new neurons, far more than in the brains of the sedentary animals. The greater the distance that a runner had covered during the experiment, the more new cells its brain now contained.

Read more at New York Times.

So long-distance running might make you smarter

Think about that the next time you’re tasked with running during practice, or are thinking about what kind of exercise to do in your off-season. The cross training will help you develop a better set of lungs — and might even improve your SAT/ACT scores.


We’d love to chat with you about your workouts and potential as a college athlete — and how we can help you get there. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

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About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.