Does Exercise Make You Smarter?

You may have heard that exercise can help with productivity or that if you train your brain you may get smarter, but do you know where these claims actually stem from? There have been many studies linking fitness and brain power. Let’s explore some and see what this connection is all about.


Research has shown that exercise can improve your ability to remember things. Many published studies focus on students studying and memorizing various items. The results indicate that students who exercised prior, during or after studying were better at retaining information. Most of the studies focused on cardio-based exercises. The scientific reasons behind this? Many studies noted that exercise releases endorphins, which is known to improve memory. Also, endorphins are known to improve your mood and who isn’t more productive when they’re in a good mood?


We’ve heard that exercise can improve productivity, but do you know why? Exercise increases the amount of oxygen that flows to your brain, and more particularly, it flows to the anterior frontal region of your brain, which controls both decision making and retention (also another reason for improved memory). These heightened skills allow for a higher and more efficient productivity level. According to a study done by the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, people are 23 percent more productive on days they exercise.

Group of people doing yogaFocus

According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, the more you perform focused strength workouts, the better you can focus in other areas of your life. Seems like this is the old practice makes perfect concept. Basically, training yourself to block everything out and focus on your form, reps and routine can flow into other areas of your life.


Dr. John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has been quoted saying that exercise can even help the brain grow new cells. “We spawn new brain cells every day,” Ratey says. “A major area we do this in is the hippocampus, which is like the learning Central Station in the brain. Nothing we know of—no drugs, no activity—nothing else competes with what physical exercise does to increase the number of new brain cells that we make every day.”

With all of these studies, coupled with the fact that proper exercise can improve physical appearance, why wouldn’t you want to get on a fitness plan? So, what are you waiting for? You can try one of BayCare’s state-of-the-art Fitness Centers, which feature aerobics, weight lifting, group and specialty exercise classes, personal training, nutritional counseling, massage therapy and more. Check out our locations below: