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How Exercise Boosts Brain Power

Your workouts don't just strengthen your body—they also power your brain.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.

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Exercise may also help your brain fitness. Here’s how:

  • A 2007 study from the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology showed that exercise stimulated growth of new brain cells in rats.
  • Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, slows the loss of brain tissue and increases the concentration of neurotransmitters, according to other studies.
  • A 2007 study from Columbia University showed that exercise improves memory by targeting a region of the brain that helps control memory and learning.
  • The neurons in your brain’s motor cortex tell your muscles what to do – they control speed and performance, so it only makes sense to boost your brain!
  • A 2008 study from the Netherlands found that cardio boosts brain power by improving cognitive function and speed.

Bonus: Looking for some brainy food? Eggs, fish and blueberries can all power up your diet. Vitamins B, C, E and magnesium can also improve brain function.