The majority is people purchase a treadmill for the convenience it provides. Gyms may be located far away, and memberships can be expensive. Furthermore, the weather outside isn’t ways conducive to running.

Treadmills give people the opportunity to stay in shape, without ever having to live their house. But what if I told you that a treadmill can do more than keep your body in shape? Indeed, running on a treadmill may improve many aspects of cognitive function. 1 2

How Can A Treadmill Make Me Smarter?

It isn’t the treadmill that is making you smarter, it’s the aerobic exercise. At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 3 days a week, has been shown to improve cognitive function in healthy individuals. There are two driving forces behind this unique benefit. Maybe you have heard that you can’t create new brain cells; this has been proven to be incorrect. The part of your brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory formation and learning, creates new brain cells.

This process is called neurogenesis. When you engage in aerobic exercise, brain cells in the hippocampus stockpile a protein called “brain-derived nootropics factor” (BDNF). 3 The BDNF protein not only helps the hippocampus create brain cells at a faster rate, but it also protects existing brain cells from damage. Simply put, the more you run, the more brain cells you have, and the better protected those brain cells are.

Aerobic exercise also improves cognitive function in the long run. It is common knowledge that aerobic exercise strengthens your heart. But not everyone is aware of the link between your heart and your brain. Your heart is responsible for pumping blood to your brain. Blood carries oxygen and glucose to your brain, which is used as fuel your brain to keep you alive. The excess fuel is put towards various cognitive functions such as learning, memory, processing speed and attention. A stronger heart allows your brain put more fuel towards these cognitive functions. Think of it this way. Your brain is a supercomputer, and your heart is the battery that powers it. Strengthening that battery helps the computer run smoother and faster.

Are There Other Ways To Become Smarter?

Scientists now know there are many ways to improve cognitive function. Using nootropics like piracetam, engaging in mental exercise, and eating the right foods can all improve mental health. But aerobic exercise is an easy and effective way to keep your brain at its best. If you didn’t have the motivation to get on that treadmill, hopefully you do now.

Resources

1. Aerobic exercise and neurocognitive performance: a meta-analytic review of randomized controlled trials:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20223924

2. Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/49/20906.full.pdf

3. Exercise training increases size and hippocampus and improves memory:http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/01/25/1015950108.abstract