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Brain Benefits of Exercise

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Brain Benefits of Exercise

Maybe you exercise for the cardiovascular benefits or to strengthen and tone your muscles. But did you know exercising can also help strengthen your mind? 

Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Angela Horner discusses why exercise is so beneficial for your brain and share the best exercises you can do to help improve cognition.


Brain Power

Exercise can have a profound impact on the body. Not only can it improve blood glucose levels, blood pressure and circulation, but it has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and can help improve hormone levels. 

“The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation and stimulate the release of growth factors,” says Horner. “These are chemicals that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.”

Exercise can also help:

  • Improve memory
  • Enhance mood
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve sleep quality

Train Your Brain

“Cardio exercise has the largest body of evidence showing it creates positive changes in your metabolism and brain,” says Horner.

During cardio exercise, there is an increase in circulation and more oxygen is transported within the musculoskeletal system and the brain. The increased blood flow helps bring important nutrients to the brain and stimulates parts of the brain that would otherwise be in a constant state of rest.

When choosing a cardio exercise, choose something you enjoy doing. Some examples of beneficial heart-pumping exercises include:

  • Walking 
  • Jogging 
  • Cycling 
  • Swimming 
  • Basketball 
  • Tennis 

Performing certain types of yard work, such as mowing the grass or raking leaves, can also be beneficial. However, to see a positive change, Horner says cardio exercise should be performed with intensity levels of 60-80 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Start Now

New to exercising or stuck in a rut? It’s never too late to start a new routine!

“The benefit of exercise can be seen at any age in as little as two weeks,” says Horner. “The key is to start at a level you can handle currently, work your way up and stay consistent.”

While cardio exercise has been shown to have the biggest impact on brain health, that doesn’t mean other forms of exercise should be pushed to the side. 

In fact, Horner stresses a well-rounded exercise program should include a combination of strength training, flexibility and cardio exercises for optimal benefit. 

For more information about personal training or to schedule a session with a professional fitness trainer, visit or call 972.233.4832.