How exercise changes your brain

When we think of the many changes that come with exercise, we think about weight loss, muscle gain, and improved strength—but one of the biggest changes happens in the brain. These changes help protect memory, thinking skills, and overall cognitive function.

Studies have shown that people who participate in regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart pumping, can experience growth in the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus has two main functions: memory and learning. 

When you exercise, you trigger the release of growth factors. These factors include chemicals in the brain that improve the health of brain cells, growth of new blood vessels within the brain, and overall survival of new brain cells. When we think of muscle growth from exercise, we typically don’t think of the brain, but it can actually experience the most meaningful growth.

If you frequently experience brain fog, regular exercise can assist with mental clarity and focus. But the changes to your brain don’t just occur in the hippocampus; the brain’s white-matter is also impacted. White matter forms the network of nerve fibers that transmit signals across the brain. When you exercise, your brain’s white matter becomes more fibrous and compact. This means that your brain can function faster and more efficiently. Scientists say daily activity can greatly impact your brain health!

While many of us start exercising to improve our physical appearance or strength, the cognitive benefits can prove just as beneficial. Health isn’t just about the body; it’s about the mind and quality of life. If you’re looking for a little motivation, check out our blog on why you should start exercising today!