Exercise Builds Better Brains

I knew it!!!

I knew there was a reason my Health Habits readers are so much smarter than the average person on the street. It turns out that all of that exercise you do improves brain health and actually promotes the growth of new brain cells.

The Research

In a new study (published here), researchers found that voluntary running caused lab mice to grow new brain cells in the region of the brain (hippocampus) associated with memory and spatial navigation.

  • The 105-day study included two groups of mice. One group was allowed unlimited access to an exercise wheel and ran an average of more than 20 km (12 miles) a day. The other group of mice weren’t allowed to exercise.
  • Tests showed that the mice in the exercise group were better able to distinguish between memories of similar things. This is likely due to the additional brain cells generated by exercise, the researchers said. “Keeping similar memories distinct is an important part of having a good memory,” said study senior author Timothy Bussey of Cambridge University. “It is this aspect of memory that is improved by exercise, our study shows.

The human equivalent might be remembering which car parking space you have used on two different days in the previous week. It becomes difficult to distinguish memories when events are similar.”

New brain cells…that has to be good. But wait,  it gets even better….

It’s not just the physical exercise that you do.

Another group of brain researchers believe that it’s a combination of increased blood flow (via exercise therapy) and increased neural activity (problem solving, learning new tasks, reading Health Habits, etc…) that results in both the creation and retention of new brain cells at any age.

So, when you go online to research how to get healthy & fit, you’re pushing your brain to grow & keep new brain cells.

But wait, it can get even better than that….

  • Supplementing your diet with Omega 3 fatty acids has been shown to improve the cellular function of your brain cells.


  • Physical Exercise = New Brain Cells
  • Mental Exercise = Retention of those New Brain Cells (the use it or lose it theory)
  • Omega 3 fatty acids via fish oils = Better Functioning Brain Cells

So, the next time some non-exercising, non-thinking, non-fish oil slurping mouth breather tells you how smart you are, you can tell them that it’s all due to Health Habits.