fonda-einstein1.jpgWell, at least aerobic exercise does.

To create new neurons and brain connections, “it appears that various growth factors must be carried from the periphery of the body into the brain” and that requires “a fairly dramatic change in blood flow.” Or at least so says Henriette Van Praag, an investigator with the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging.

Stretching is great, weight training is good for you, but evidently it is getting your heart pumping that pumps up the brain. Or at least the brains of mice, according to work along the same lines published online in May 2009 by National Chen Kung University in Taiwan, where the amount of aerobic activity was linked to “increased neuroplasticity changes in different brain regions.”

While it has long been known that exercise stimulates the creation of new brain cells (Salk Institute in California published groundbreaking work in the field 10 years ago), recent studies provide the insight that it is primarily aerobic exercise that provides the benefits, and the more strenuous the better.

So, want to get smarter? Want to practice preventive health care? Live longer? Have lower health care costs? Be happier? More productive? Get your heart rate up 3 to 4 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes!