Does Working Out Create New Brain Cells?

You’ve probably heard that exercise is good for your brain. But what does that actually mean? Does working out create new brain cells?


Exercise is known to have many health benefits from improved cardiovascular health to reducing stress. However, one of the latest and most interesting health benefits that has been gaining more attention is its positive effect on the brain. Recent studies have shown that regular physical activity can not only improve mood and overall cognitive performance, but it can also help with the creation of new brain cells. Let’s look at these findings in more detail.

Overview of the research

Recent studies suggest that regular aerobic exercises, such as running or biking, not only improve overall physical health and fitness, but can also promote neurological changes in the brain. Scientists are exploring the hypothesis that aerobic exercise causes the production of new neurons in an area of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for regulating emotions and forming memories; thus its potential for growth offers exciting implications for those suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions.

In this overview of the research related to physical activity and neurogenesis, we begin by exploring the history of research linking aerobic exercise with improvements to cognitive functioning. We then discuss current understanding of what role – if any – neurogenesis has in these changes. Finally, we discuss implications for clinical treatments focusing on neurogenesis as well as potential drawbacks to this strategy. All evidence suggests that better understanding of how exercise promotes neurogenesis will revolutionize our approach toward treating a range of mental health issues.

Types of Exercise

It’s been shown that exercise can increase the growth of new brain cells and protect against age related decline. But what types of exercise are most beneficial for creating new brain cells? This section will talk about the different types of exercise that can help create new brain cells, as well as the benefits of each type of exercise.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is any type of physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases your heart rate. Also known as cardio exercise, aerobic activities include running, jogging, swimming, biking and walking. During aerobic exercise your heart rate increases and you breathe faster and more deeply. It helps to increase your endurance and is excellent for promoting good health as well as for weight loss.

When it comes to the ability to create new brain cells, research has found that aerobic activity appears to stimulate neurogenesis by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a growth factor involved in the development of new neurons and synapses in the hippocampus region of the brain which is associated with learning and memory. In one study, mice that were made to run on a treadmill three times a week showed an increase in BDNF levels in their hippocampus compared to mice that only ran once or twice a day or had no exercise at all. This suggests that regular aerobic activity can stimulate neurogenesis leading to increased cognitive functioning over time.

Resistance training

Resistance training, also known as strength or weight training, is the use of external resistance created by the body itself (such as weight lifting) or using external weights or machines. This type of exercise involves working against a force and ultimately builds strength, increases muscular endurance and increases power. Resistance training can be done with free weights like dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells and medicine balls. Other forms of resistance include bands, sand bags and your own bodyweight. Depending on the complexity and range of motions required, compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts that use multiple muscle groups at once are generally considered better choices than isolating each muscle group separately with individual exercises.

Effects of Exercise

Working out and physical exercise has long been linked to a variety of mental and physical benefits. But can exercise actually create new brain cells or help existing ones to grow? Studies have revealed that physical exercise does have some effects on the brain. This article will explore the effects of exercise on the brain and how it can help create new brain cells.


Neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells, is largely thought to play a vital role in maintaining the health of our brains and how well they function. Exercise has long been known to improve overall physical and mental health, but it was only recently discovered that it can also help create new brain cells.

Exercise causes chemical changes in our bodies that increase the production of “neurotrophic factors” which are essentially hormones responsible for helping regulate brain cell growth and survival. These factors help create new brain cells and form connections between existing neurons by enhancing their performance over time. This process is called “synaptic plasticity”, meaning it allows us to modify our brains to better respond to different circumstances in life.

The formation of new neurons over time can potentially lead to improved cognitive functioning such as memory, learning, concentration and decision-making skills. Exercise helps stimulate cell development even in older adults with dementia, allowing them to regain lost memories and maintain better concentration. Other possible benefits from increased neurogenesis include improved moods via serotonin production as well as a heightened sense of motivation from endorphin release into the bloodstream during exercise.


Exercise is essential for a healthy body, and gets even more essential when it comes to the health of your brain. Research has produced evidence of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to form new neural pathways in response to stimuli from environment or experience. This means that exposure to new activities can cause the brain to adjust its structure and organization, an effect that exercise plays an important role in bringing about.

The process of neuroplasticity starts with changes at the cellular level known as crosstalk. This occurs when neurons start forming direct connections and pathways with other cells, allowing them to become more synchronized with each other over time. Exercise stimulates growth factors like neurotrophins which help maintain these pathways and increase neuronal communication within areas like the hippocampus resulting in enhanced memory.

The combination of regular exercise and healthy eating habits is especially beneficial for increases in cognitive functioning due to neoroplasticity. In addition, improvements in cardiovascular health also result from regular physical activity which then leads to better perfusion through blood vessels resulting in improved supply of oxygen and glucose needed by neurons for energy production. All these responses lead to increased growth hormone levels thereby increasing hippocampal volume as well as reduced levels of cortisol contributing further towards cognitive improvements allowing us lead healthier lives enabled by our brains pursuing great potentials.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has long been known to have numerous physical and mental health benefits. Research has shown that exercise can help reduce stress, improve overall physical fitness, boost mood, and even aid in weight loss. But did you know that exercise can also positively effect your brain? Many studies suggest that regular exercise can create new brain cells and improve cognitive function. Let’s dive into the science behind how exercise can benefit your brain.

Improved cognitive function

Maintaining a regular exercise program has been linked to improved cognitive function in all age groups. While the exact mechanism is not yet known, researchers believe that exercise helps the brain create new cells and improves brain functioning.

At an anatomical level, moderate levels of exercise lead to increased blood flow to the brain which can help support cell production and longevity. Exercise has also been associated with changes in certain mediators of neuronal plasticity that are important for learning and memory such as having increased BDNF or Brain derived neurotrophic factor, which influence the development of new nerve segments and connections.

Engaging in regular exercise can also improve cognitive performance as well as protect cognition from aging-related decline. Studies have shown that physically active individuals had better scores on tests measuring information processing speed, attention and switching focus than those who reported lower levels of physical activity. Additionally, consistent aerobic activity has been linked to better performance on memory tests involving word recall who may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Regular physical activity could even lead to improved decision-making skills since studies have found a relationship between exercise and decreased impulsivity scores in adolescents and adults alike. An improvement in self-control likely contributes to more beneficial decision making as well since people can resist impulsive behaviors such as overeating or unfavorable outcomes like bankruptcy or crime. Overall, it is clear that engaging in regular reoccurring physical activity benefits one’s mental health by promoting higher educational attainment, improved productivity and creativity, greater job satisfaction, and better overall psychological wellbeing.

Improved mental health

Regular exercise has been linked to improved mental health and well-being, with numerous physical and psychological benefits. Not only can it reduce stress and anxiety, but it can also help improve mood and boost self-esteem. Exercise has also been shown to improve cognition and memory, creating new brain cells known as neurons that help to communicate information more quickly throughout the body. Additionally, increased physical activity can lead to a healthier lifestyle overall by increasing bone density, reducing heart disease risk factors, helping you sleep better, maintaining a healthy weight, improving coordination and balance and aiding in digestion.


It has been established that exercise does have a positive effect on the human brain. It has been shown to create new brain cells in adults, improve cognitive function, and even increase the size of certain brain regions. Exercise also helps boost your mood and reduce the risk of disease. With all these benefits, it is clear that exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and nourishing your brain.

Summary of findings

This research has investigated the connection between physical exercise and the production of new neurons in the brain. The evidence is clear that exercise does indeed have a beneficial effect on the brain, stimulating the growth of new neurons in certain areas. These new neurons play an important role in learning and memory, improving our ability to form pathways for information and helping us to remember more easily.

This research supports numerous studies from multiple labs all over the world, suggesting that, even though we should still continue to practice healthy habits when it comes to our brains, physical exercise can be beneficial with regard to increasing neural activity and neural plasticity. Exercise should not be relegated solely as a physical activity – rather, it is an effective means of investing in our own cognitive capabilities.

Future research

While preliminary research seems to show that physical exercise can cause neurogenesis and contribute to increased cognition, further study is needed to fully confirm the relationship between physical activity and neurogenesis. When researchers know exactly how much physical activity is necessary and what role each type of exercise plays, society will have the opportunity to better understand and utilize the power of exercise. By better understanding the difference in these factors, researchers will be able to create more tailored interventions for potential medical treatments or lifestyle changes that promote healthy lifestyle habits.

It will also be important for future research to determine what other environmental factors such as age, diet and mental stimulation play a part in neurogenesis caused by physical activity. Additionally, studies need to be conducted on people with cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia in order to determine whether exercise can aid those affected individuals. Ultimately, this line of research could potentially provide answers about how much exercising is necessary and in which ways it may help maintain brain health in a wide range of individuals.

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