by: Madeline Haller
Fit body, fitter brain. People who regularly exercised when they were younger performed better on memory and functioning tests at age 50 than those who didn’t hit the gym growing up, according to a new study in Psychological Medicine.
Here are three more ways being physically fit also makes you mentally strong:
1. You Remember More
Incorporating a short burst of exercise into your daily routine may strengthen your memory, says research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. People who cycled on a stationary bike for 6 minutes were able to remember more images an hour after riding than those who stayed sedentary. Researchers credit the exercise-induced release of norepinephrine—a chemical in the brain that plays a role in memory—for the brain boost.
2. You Have More Willpower
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that shorter, more intense bouts of exercise enhanced people’s self-control, problem solving, and verbal reasoning. Scientists suspect that acute exercise increases blood flow to your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain that controls executive functions.
3. You Make Smarter Decisions
Researchers from the University of Illinois reviewed over 100 studies and found several connections linking exercise to better decision-making and multitasking skills. Studies also found that exercise stimulates your body’s production of a protein called insulin-like growth factor-1, which has been shown to fire up the growth of neurons and enhance cognitive performance. The best part: Most of the research indicates that sweating 3 days a week for 30 minutes is enough to see an effect.