While doing mind exercises and staying mentally active can help to keep your mind sharp, regular exercise can increase your brain cells!

As people get older the area in the brain called the hippocampus begins to shrink. This shrinkage leads to the development of dementia. A Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study found that those who exercise and push themselves away from the television and computer are not only in better physical shape, but their hippocampus also starts to grow – reversing the aging loss and increasing the brain size and memory function to add years to their life.

Exercise boosts the blood flow to the brain, even for those who are not in the best of shape When your oxygen level is low you are not able to concentrate, and your memory level is also lower. According to the study, just three months of aerobic exercises increases the blood flow enough to the hippocampus section of the brain to improve scores on memory tests.

In the study conducted at Columbia University in New York,  46 mice were divided into two groups. The first group of 23 received running wheels in their cages while the second set had no access to exercise equipment. The mice with the wheels took full advantage of the equipment, with no encouragement whatsoever. At the end of two weeks a dye was injected into their brain to show new cell growth, and four weeks later another injection was made.

The mice with the exercise wheel showed more blood flow to the hippocampus region of the brain, and more cell growth as well.

The next step in the study the researchers turned their focus to humans. They brought in 11 healthy people between the ages of 21-45. None of the subjects participated in any form of exercise. They were all given memory and an aerobic fitness test as well as an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) brain scan.

They were asked to work out for an hour, four times a week for three months at the Columbia University fitness center, warming up for five minutes on a treadmill or stationary bike, stretch for five minutes, do 40 minutes of aerobic training on a treadmill, stair machine or elliptical trainer, and then cool down and stretch for 10 minutes.

After three months the memory test, fitness tests and MRI scans were repeated.

The results showed an increase in blood flow to the hippocampus region, and better scores on the memory tests, as well as improvements in physical fitness.

Since no dye was used to check for new brain cells on the humans, the boost to the number of brain cells was not definitive, but the probability was likely given the results of the test with mice.

“When you add it all up,” says researcher Scott Small, MD, “You’ve got a good reason to get moving.” “I, like many physicians, already encourage my patients to get active, and this adds yet another reason to the long list of reasons why exercise is good for overall health,” Small says.

Fitness expert Robert Sweetgall explains: “If you don’t exercise regularly, try starting with a simple cardio program at home. You might want to check out the 20-Minute Memory Solution exercise program that I personally use. It really works!”

Caution: When changing your exercise routine, be sure to consult your doctor first.

It’s never too late to start exercising, even later in life. It’s not only is good for your body, it’s good for your mind.



Practical Memory Institute – Improve Your Memory through Physical Exercise: http://memoryzine.com/2011/02/06/improve-your-memory-through-physical-exercise/

Exercise Improves Memory Acquisition and Retrieval in the Y-Maze Task: Relationship With Hippocampal Neurogenesis –  http://psy2.ucsd.edu/~mgorman/Exercise.pdf

Memory-Improvement-Tips.com – Exercise and Memory: http://www.memory-improvement-tips.com/exercise.html

WebMD.com – Get Fit, Improve Memory – Exercise May Boost Memory Through Brain Blood Flow and New Brain Cells: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20070313/get-fit-improve-memory

The Franklin Institute – Physical Exercise for a Better Brain: http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/exercise.html