Can Aerobics Also Strengthen Your Brain?

Getting physical, regardless of your age or weight, can do wonders for your overall health. Whether that's going on a brisk walk, running, or cycling — you name it — aerobic exercise benefits heart health and lung health, enhances mood, and can help with weight loss and longevity (per Mayo Clinic). On top of these impressive benefits, aerobic exercise can also strengthen and maintain brain health.

In fact, a 2021 study published in the journal Neurolmage reported that aerobic exercise can also improve memory. Researchers from this study examined the white matter of the brain, finding that not only does aerobic exercise enhance memory, but it supports the regions of the brain that deal the most with aging (via MindBodyGreen).

Also, aerobics can improve blood flow to the brain, points out Cleveland Clinic. It improves the integrity of white matter and improves neuroplasticity, which is responsible for creating new neural connections. Whether you're learning a new board game or a foreign language, two minutes to an hour of medium or high-intensity aerobic exercise can help enhance memory, learning, and concentration, shares a study published in Translational Sports Medicine.

What are other ways to strengthen your brain?

While aerobic exercise is a huge factor in supporting brain health, there are other ways to strengthen your brain that pair nicely with sweaty workouts. Taking care of your mental health will improve your cognitive functioning, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Additionally, spend time in the sun, whether you're relaxing or running. A 2009 study published in Environmental Health shares that less exposure to sunlight decreases cognitive performance and affects brain blood flow. This study tested both depressed and non-depressed participants, finding that light strengthens cognitive function.

Another way to strengthen your brain is to develop a cognitive reserve using mentally stimulating activities. "The more new things we learn, the more connections there are, so even if some of them die as a result of brain disease, there are still some connections that remain, which allows you to remain more functional," neuropsychologist Aaron Bonner-Jackson tells Cleveland Clinic. Practice building your reserve by picking up a new hobby or solving a puzzle. Lastly, avoid isolation and stay engaged with your social circle, as this will boost brain function, too.