Research Shows Exercise Is Good for Your Brain

Neuroscientists, psychologists and physicians all agree—Exercise is the best thing you can do for your brain. Laura Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, concurs: “If we had a pill that could do what exercise does, its sales would put Viagra’s to shame.”

Research continues to show that cognitive decline is not inevitable. Brain volume may shrink as we age, but the brain continues to make new neurons and fine-tune neural connections as long as we live.

Aerobic exercise, for example, reduces the level of brain loss and keeps cognitive abilities sharp. It slashes the lifetime risk of Alzheimer’s in half and the risk of general dementia by 60 percent.

Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, spurring the release of a chemical that stimulates the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus, the area involved in memory, learning and the ability to plan and make decisions. This same chemical also repairs cell damage and strengthens synapses, which connect brain cells.

exercisebrain3It’s never too late for your brain to benefit from exercise either. A now-classic study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that people 60 to 79 years of age who completed a six-month program of walking briskly on a regular basis showed an increase in the size of the hippocampus—the first time scientists have been able to demonstrate this.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at:

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