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Guest Post: Did You Know – Your Treadmill Can Make You Smarter?

Did You Know – Your Treadmill Can Make You Smarter?

TreadmillMost people purchase treadmills for the convenience of exercising in their own home. Gym memberships can be expensive and the weather is not always conducive to outside exercise. Plus, it s easier to motivate yourself when you don’t have to leave your house. Most benefits derived from exercising on a treadmill are common knowledge. Improved cardiovascular health and increased basal metabolic rate to name a couple. But there is one benefit of aerobic exercise that many people are not aware of, aerobic exercise improves cognitive function.

How Can Aerobic Exercise Make Me Smarter?

I understand you may be skeptical. I know I was when I first learned of this, but the research is rock solid. Aerobic exercise is associated with modest improvements in attention, processing speed, executive function, and memory. 1 2 It doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 50, engaging in regular aerobic exercise boosts cognitive function. How regular does this exercise have to be? Research suggests that a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week, improves cognitive function. You don’t even have to be running. Light jogging and fast walking work, just as long as you are keeping your heart rate up, you are improving your cognitive abilities.

How Is This Possible?

Aerobic exercise does two things: First, it increases the rate of neurogenesis in your hippocampus. 3 Simply put, the more you exercise, the faster you grow new brain cells. The more brain cells you have, the more processing power your brain has. But that’s not all aerobic exercise does. It also increases the amount of brain-derived nootropic factor (BDNF) that is present in your brain cells. 3 BDNF is a protein that is responsible for the survival, development, and function of new brain cells. Having greater amounts of BDNF helps new neurons survive and flourish.

Sea Turtles provide an excellent example of this concept. Once a mature sea turtle has made her way to the beach, she will lay between 50 and 250 eggs. However, only 1% of these baby sea turtles will successfully make their way to the ocean and reach maturity. The rest will fall prey to various predators. You could think of your neurons the same way. Specific areas in the brain create new neurons. Then they must make their way to different areas where they can be effectively used. There is a plethora of internal and external stressors that can destroy these neurons before they are ever put to use.

Engaging in aerobic exercise causes your brain to pump out neurons quicker, and protects them until they become fully functional. Instead of the sea turtle laying 250 eggs, it lays 350. And instead of only 1% surviving, now 3% survive. The end result is improved cognitive function across the board.

There Are Also Long-Term Benefits

Aerobic exercise also improves cognitive function in the long term. It is vital for cardiovascular fitness. The more you exercise, the stronger your heart becomes. But not many people consider what a stronger heart means for your brain. If you think of your brain as a super computer, and the blood vessels attached to it as electrical cords, your heart would be the battery that powers it. A stronger heart pumps more blood to your brain. Blood carries oxygen and glucose, which act as “fuel” for your brain. Your brain uses this fuel to keep your body alive. Any leftover fuel devoted to higher cognitive functions. In short, strengthening your heart gives your brain excess fuel it can use to power higher cognitive functions such as learning, memory, attention, and processing speed. If you didn’t have enough motivation to exercise, hopefully you do now.

Smart Guy

If Aerobic Exercise Can Make Me Smarter, What Else Can?

The truth is, there are many ways to improve intelligence. Use of nootropics such as aniracetam and piracetam, mental exercise such as the Dual-N-Back test, and proper diet can improve cognitive function.  The amount of avenues you can take to improve your cognitive abilities might surprise you. Here you can introduce yourself to the interesting world of nootropics.



1. Aerobic exercise and neurocognitive performance: a meta-analytic review of randomized controlled trials:

2. Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood:

3. Exercise training increases size and hippocampus and improves memory: