Science Says Even This Small Amount Of Exercise Can Help Your Brain

No matter how you choose to get it, exercise has plenty of benefits. It helps reduce your risk of several conditions, including high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, and depression. It improves your sleep, boosts your mood and energy levels, and can help you lose weight (via Mayo Clinic). Exercise is also good for your brain. Exercise increases blood flow, which improves the integrity of the white matter in your brain. It also encourages neuroplasticity, per Cleveland Health Clinic. One study published in the journal Neurology showed that physical activity might help delay cognitive decline and dementia.

Depending on your needs, you may require more or less exercise. The American Heart Association recommends that for general health, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. You can reap even more benefits if you are active 300 minutes per week.

How much physical exercise benefits the brain?

While more exercise might sometimes seem good, that does not mean that a little is bad — especially when it comes to the effect exercise has on your brain. At least that is what one study published in Translational Sports Medicine showed. Researchers looked at data gathered from 2009 to 2019 and found that as little as two minutes of aerobic activity improved "attention, concentration, and learning and memory functions" in individuals aged 18 to 35. So, a quick set of jumping jacks or running in place before a task could help the brain learn and memorize certain things.

But the benefits of exercise for the brain are not limited to the young. A study published in Science Direct revealed how just one 20-minute session of exercise increased cognitive function and memory in adults aged 60 to 80 (per Science Daily). Regular exercise may also increase the volume of the prefrontal and temporal cortex areas of the brain, which are associated with thinking and memory, per Harvard Health.