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Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain

Human Brain

Story at-a-glance -

  • A new hypothesis for why human brains have outgrown those of other, far larger, mammals is that exercise, which lead to more athletic bodies capable of greater physical endurance, played a key role
  • Researchers are now suggesting that the increases in aerobic capacity and physical activity that occurred during human evolution may have directly influenced the human brain, which may, in turn, explain changes in your brain size and cognitive function
  • The researchers examined data that found animals bred to be proficient endurance runners developed high levels of substances that promote tissue growth and health, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons
  • Just as exercise may have been pivotal in helping to shape the modern human brain, it is also an essential element of maintaining brain health today, and has been linked to enhanced memory, Alzheimer’s prevention and more

By Dr. Mercola

Humans have the largest brain and number of neurons among primates, which is a bit of an anomaly, because we do not have the largest body. Ordinarily, the mammalian brain grows in proportion to total body size, but human brains have outgrown those of other, far larger, mammals. It is, in fact, about three times larger than would be expected, given your body size.


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