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6 Ways Exercise Makes Your Brain Better

(Reader’s Digest) Movement is medicine for the mind: Here’s how your mental muscle benefits every time you get going.
1. It spurs brain growth...
Cardio boosts blood flow to the brain, which delivers much-needed oxygen (the brain soaks up 20 percent of all the oxygen in your body).
2. It boosts brain-building hormones
[T]he chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, stimulates the growth and proliferation of brain cells… The more you exercise, the more BDNF you produce.
3. It fights depression and anxiety
[E]xercise … cranks up the body’s production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals crucial to happy mood. And it boosts levels of the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. 
4. It reduces the effects of stress
Slow, scattered thinking and forgetfulness are caused by stress more often than we may realize. Exercise lowers cortisol levels, helping you to think straight again.
5. It improves your brain’s executive function
[A]dults aged 55 to 80 who did regular exercise performed four times better on cognitive tests than control groups who didn’t work out…
6. It increases sensitivity to insulin
Regular exercise … can reverse insulin resistance. In fact, your insulin sensitivity increases, stabilizing your blood sugar after you eat—for at least 16 hours after a single exercise session. The better your blood-sugar control, the more protected you are against age-related cognitive decline. 
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