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Exercise is good for you in many, many ways. But in case you’re unconvinced, here is one more: it can make you smarter.

We’ve known for a long time that exercise can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, keep us physically fit, and even improve our mood. But studies now suggest that the benefits of exercise go beyond the physical. The parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are actually larger in people who exercise regularly.

It’s true! A recent study at the University of British Columbia found that regular aerobic exercise appears to increase the size of the hippocampus – the part of the brain involved with memory and learning.

So, how often do you have to work out for the intelligence benefits to kick in? According to a study by the Department of Exercise at the University of Georgia, even exercising just 20 minutes at a time can ratchet up information processing and memory functions in your brain.

And what kind of exercise is best? It turns out that an ideal way to increase brain function is by engaging in activities that have both physical and mental demands, like ballroom dancing. This type of workout is most beneficial for brain health because it simultaneously involves different parts of the brain for coordination, rhythm, and strategy.

But of course, before you begin any exercise program, be sure to chat with your primary care physician! Click here to book an appointment today.

Image:“???? Morning Jog” / ???? Sports Forms / SML.20130418.6D.00964, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from See-ming Lee’s photostream.

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