Fitness, Women's Health

Exercise Increases the Size of Your Brain

Glutes and biceps aren’t the only things that are pumped up by exercise. A new study by Australian researchers finds that exercise can increase the size of our hippocampus, the part of our brain that is critical for memory and other brain functions. A news release from Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University reports that researchers at the school reviewed 14 clinical trials which examined the brain scans of 737 people before and after aerobic exercise programs or in control conditions. The researchers examined effects of aerobic exercise, including stationary cycling, walking, and treadmill running, and the length of the interventions ranged from three to 24 months with a range of 2-5 sessions per week. The bottom line, published in the journal NeuroImage – showed that, while exercise had no effect on total hippocampal volume, it did significantly increase the size of the left region of the hippocampus in humans. Lead author Joseph Firth said the study provides some of the most definitive evidence to date on the benefits of exercise for brain health. “When you exercise,” said Firth, “you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain.”

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