The Brain-Boosting Benefits of Exercise
Regular exercise is good for your mind and enhances your mental health.
You probably know that regular exercise reduces your risk for chronic conditions such
as diabetes and heart disease while helping to keep your weight in check. But research
shows that the psychological perks exercise provides can be just as powerful.
Here’s an update on some of the brain benefits attributed to physical activity.
Exercise Improves Sleep
If you want to hit the pillow harder at night, try hitting the gym. Exercising during
the day can help you sleep better. And when you sleep better, you’ll feel better when
Physical activity makes it easier for you to fall asleep at night, and may help you
sleep more soundly—giving you better quality sleep. Getting enough sleep helps your
brain work properly—it can help you be more creative, learn new things, pay attention,
make decisions, get along with others, solve problems, and control your emotions.
Exercise Helps Keep You Sharp
You can’t stop the clock, but exercise can help keep your mind working in tip-top
shape as you age. Regular physical activity keeps your thinking, learning, and judgment
In fact, a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that moderate exercise
improved brain activity in areas important for learning and memory. Decreases in glucose
metabolism in the brain are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers
found that among late middle-age adults, moderate physical activity was linked with
increased glucose metabolism in areas of the brain that are commonly affected by the
To keep your brain sharp, especially as you get older, keep moving. Aerobic exercise
or a mix of aerobic and strength-training activities three to five times a week for
30 to 60 minutes at a time can give you mental health benefits.
Exercise Relieves Stress
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you may feel like you don’t have time
to exercise. But squeezing in a workout may be just what the doctor ordered.
When you’re exercising, your body releases chemicals that help improve your mood and
make you feel more relaxed. This can help relieve stress and even reduce your risk
If you feel stressed, try taking a walk. Just a 30 minute walk can help boost your
mood and reduce stress. You can also try exercise programs designed to help cope with
stress, like yoga or tai chi.