Improve Your Brain Function with Exercise

Medically reviewed in March 2021

Every walk around the block, every dumbbell curl, every yoga pose—each is a good investment in your mind. There is a close correlation between exercise and the brain.

Time and time again, research has shown that if you keep your body busy today, your brain is less likely to suffer from memory thieves like Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia tomorrow. What’s the connection between exercise and the brain? It boosts cerebral blood flow and stimulates the growth of new gray matter. Maybe bodybuilding should be called brain building.

No single type of exercise can improve your brain function more than others. Studies have found cognitive benefits from aerobic exercise (brisk walking, biking, raking leaves), as well as from strength and flexibility workouts (lifting weights and holding yoga poses); they all provide long-term improvements. Even activities that you probably don't think of as "exercise" count, including picking up your niece's favorite toy for the umpteenth time, doing three loads of laundry while waiting for the cable company or pacing the floor as you watch your team lose in overtime. As long as you’re moving, your brain is reaping the benefits.

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