Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Physiology & Medicine => Topic started by: EvaH on 09/06/2020 12:03:01

Title: Can using your brain count as exercise?
Post by: EvaH on 09/06/2020 12:03:01
Lorne wants to know:

The ABC Classic was playing music to dance to. I was sitting down but found myself imagining dancing. Can the brain power take the form of exercise? I turned the page of the National Geographic magazine to see a small inset saying that top chess players can use up to 6,000 units while playing an important game.

What do you think?
Title: Re: Can using your brain count as exercise?
Post by: Bored chemist on 09/06/2020 13:07:15
Compared to not using it?
How do you do that?
Title: Re: Can using your brain count as exercise?
Post by: alancalverd on 09/06/2020 17:06:10
As we can map blood flow in the brain, and its function is to bring oxygen to the working parts, it's pretty clear that there is a metabolic difference between an active brain and one at relative rest. Problem is that the difference is only about 10% increase in total power consumption between sleep and maximum anxiety, i.e. around 2% of the total bodily power requirement. And whilst this may burn off a few calories, it won't improve your muscle tone or make you feel anything other than tired. 
Title: Re: Can using your brain count as exercise?
Post by: evan_au on 09/06/2020 21:27:53
Another factor is that the brain reduces energy consumption in areas that are not being actively used.
- So while doing Sudoku might increase energy consumption in one part of your brain, other parts of the brain will be running in economy mode (eg parts controlling limb movements)

Gross motor movement does consume considerable energy - especially the large muscles of the legs.

What you need is Sudoku to dance to....
Title: Re: Can using your brain count as exercise?
Post by: chiralSPO on 09/06/2020 23:21:58
I doubt that thinking really hard can burn calories anywhere close to running or lifting weights--and surely doesn't provide many of the other benefits of exercise (muscle growth, increased blood flow, etc.)

That said, from first-hand (anecdotal) experience, playing speed chess is definitely different from being at rest. I play a lot of blitz (3 minutes on a side, no increment). And I have noticed that my breathing and heart rate both increase dramatically when playing, and sometimes I even break a sweat (no kidding!). Some of this is likely the adrenaline associated with competition, but I would imagine that some of it is related to thinking really hard and really fast. My performance is also very much lower if I have low blood sugar or didn't sleep well over the past few nights.
Title: Re: Can using your brain count as exercise?
Post by: alancalverd on 10/06/2020 10:33:11
Around 75% of all the calories you consume, are used to maintain body temperature. If you want to lose weight, turn off the central heating. It won't improve muscle tone but it will burn off the fat quicker than anything else.
Title: Re: Can using your brain count as exercise?
Post by: carl89 on 01/07/2020 07:22:11
I've heard that brain is kind of muscle. Like i started to learn a new knowledge, the first day i learned not much, but after a period of time, my brain get involved in it, and its capacity for learning increases.
Title: Re: Can using your brain count as exercise?
Post by: Colin2B on 01/07/2020 14:38:44
I've heard that brain is kind of muscle.
The brain isn’t actually a muscle, but it does respond to mental ‘exercise’ eg learning something new. Parts of the brain will increase in size in response to the new learning (hippocampus) and new neurone pathways will be formed.