How Cardio Affects Your Brain

All exercise is good exercise, but cardio in particular can help your mind stay sharp as you age.  Research has found that consistently engaging in cardio activities (running, cycling) has both direct and indirect benefits for brain health. Not only can it relieve stress and anxiety, cardio sets off chemical processes that support better thinking and memory. The reasons are:

  • Cardio stimulates brain elasticity, specifically by helping form and grow new neuronal connections between brain cells.

  • Cardio helps reduce your brain’s response to stress. Its mood-boosting benefits kick into high gear when you reach your 70 percent of your maximum capacity.

  • Cardio can reduce your risk of memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Cardio helps strengthen the hippocampus, the part of the brain that deals with memory.

  • Cardio makes you more mindful. It’s like a moving meditation: the monotonous movement frees up your mind and allows creative thoughts to break through.

  • Cardio delivers more oxygen to your brain, since you tend to breathe harder than you would during resistance training.

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