When we think about the benefits of exercising, we tend to focus on it giving us more energy, losing, or maintaining weight, building stronger muscles, and having better sleep. While, these are all valid and beneficial reasons, we rarely think about the effects exercise can have on our brain. Physical activity is useful to boost our brain health. In fact, regular exercise is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle. With any form of exercise that you undergo, you are improving your cognitive fitness every time. 

The following are 5 reasons why exercise is good for our brain.

1. It helps to improve your focus and concentration

A research study conducted by neuroscientists, Wendy Suzuki & Julia C. Basso, found that just one workout can increase our brain’s ability to focus on a task for up to 2 hours. A simple 30-minute exercise can have these longer lasting benefits for us. 

2. It decreases our stress levels

Every time we exercise, a number of neurotransmitters are released into the brain which are essential for reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Thus, the more you exercise, the more neurotransmitters are released to make us feel better. In addition to this, there is the phenomena of “runner’s high” which occurs when we exercise, a number of endorphins are released which create the feeling of a workout high. This means that physical activity is an indirect way to help treat stress. 

3. It protects the brain from a number of neurodegenerative diseases

A research study carried out in 2018, led by Helena Horder, in Sweden reported that women who exercised where 90% less likely to develop dementia than those who were unfit. The brain is like a muscle because the more you work out, the stronger it becomes. Thus, while exercising cannot cute neurodegenerative diseases, it can help to delay the onset of them.

4. Improves cognitive function

Exercising can help promote the birth of new brain cells. This helps improve cognitive function which relates to memory formation and storage. It can also allow brain cells to communicate better with one another by improving the functions of the synapses between neurons. 

5. Increases our self-confidence

The more we exercise, the more we start to feel better about ourselves. This could be due to us looking better or just because we are decreasing our stress and anxiety levels. Thus, you are helping to boost your mind, body, and spirit. 

Exercise to help boost our brains functioning does not have to be intense. It can be a simple 30-minute workouts or walks a week. If 30 minutes sounds like too much, then you can even start with less till you get accustomed to exercising. Then, you can start to slowly build up your minutes as you go along exercising. Use the above-mentioned benefits to get you motivated to start exercising today! 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Mandy Brincat is a Gestalt psychotherapist who enjoys working therapeutically with adults on various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing. She also has experience working with anxiety, victims of domestic violence and eating disorders.


  1. Basso, J. and Suzuki, W., 2017. The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review. National Library of Medicine, 2(2), pp.127-152.
  2. Charvat, M. (2019). Why Exercise Is Good for Your Brain. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fifth-vital-sign/201901/why-exercise-is-good-your-brain
  3. Hörder H, Johansson L, Guo X, Grimby G, Kern S, Östling S, Skoog I., (2018). Midlife cardiovascular fitness and dementia: A 44-year longitudinal population study in womenNeurology. 10;90(15): e1298-e1305.
  4. Suzuki, W. (2021). A neuroscientist shares the 4 brain-changing benefits of exercise—and how much she does every week. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/22/neuroscientist-shares-the-brain-health-benefits-of-exercise-and-how-much-she-does-a-week.html