Work it – Does watching sports motivate you to “step up” your own exercise routines? Well, at least it’s good for your brain!


Work It

Good morning, everyone! Yet another muggy day here in Cleveland, Ohio. My hair leaves much to be desired  — imagine a frizzy, limp rats nest. How’s that for specific?

Anyway, it better get nice quick (or I’ve just gotta let it go) because tonight I’m headed to an Indians Game with the Mister and our friends Josh and Leann. Remember when Josh graduated from Law School? This was our gift to him.

Well with all the sports and sporting events I’ve been taking in lately, I’m feelin’ pretty motivated!

But there’s more to it than motivation. A recent study, “Sports Experience Changes the Neural Processing of Action Language”, explored the link between our learned motor skills and our language comprehension about those motor skills.

The interesting finding here is that those with experience, either playing or watching, are actually calling on additional neural networks in their brains to help their normal language comprehension abilities. In other words, the memories of learned actions are linked and assist other cognitive tasks. That sounds pretty much like the definition of embodied cognition and Dr. Beilock’s research has helped that theory take another step forward. In her words, “Experience playing and watching sports has enduring effects on language understanding by changing the neural networks that support comprehension to incorporate areas active in performing sports skills.”

So as you are watching the NBA finals, take pride in your own brain when you hear, “Kobe dribbles the ball to the top of the key, crosses over, drives the lane, and takes it to the basket for two trips over his shoe laces and falls flat on his face.” If you can imagine that play, your left dorsal premotor cortex just kicked into gear!

For the full study, check out the article, Watching Sports Is Good For Your Brain.

What does watching sports do for you? Amp you up for your own fitness routines? Motivate you to play it yourself?