Health and fitness: Studies show exercise and brain function are linked

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By Kent Pegg

Several studies conducted over the past few years have shown that regular exercise increases brain function and cognitive ability. In fact, exercise is now being called the best strategy to increase brain power.

Exercise, both cardiovascular and light to moderate weight training, increases the size of the arteries. This allows greater blood flow which helps increase mental ability.

More blood flow also leads to increased neurogenesis, the brains ability to make new neurons and increased neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reinvent itself. This makes the brain more functional and capable of holding and processing more data.

Exercise also increases brain cell growth in the hippocampus. Located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, the hippocampus is essential for memory formation and is important for spatial navigation and relational memory.

Initial studies in animals showed that fit animals have bigger hippocampi and better spatial memory. Now, studies have shown the same to be true for humans. The larger the hippocampus, the more tissue and, therefore, better spatial memory.

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