Can Working Out Make You Smarter?


Published on March 25th, 2013

Does the amount of physical activity and exercise relate to an individuals intelligence? The humans ability to take in and process information is a key factor to their cognitive functionality. Cognition is the brain’s ability to acquire and process knowledge through thought, experience, and senses.

Now, when you think of ‘smart’ you may be thinking of something like book-smart or trivial-smart; however, there are so many levels of intelligence that sometimes it can seem unmeasurable. So, by looking at some of the most popular characteristics of a smart person and relating exercise benefits to those characteristics can help to give a better gauge on how much exercise plays a role in human intelligence.

Some of the most popular attributes a person possesses that make others consider them as “smart” or “intelligent” is having a sharp memory, strong attention span, high-level of self-awareness, great problem solver, and a quick learner.

Sharp Memory
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released in the brain in response to stress. Studies have shown that an excess of cortisol in the brain interferes with neurotransmitters and impairs the ability to keep a sharp focus and retrieve long term memories. Physical acitivity and working out help your body to reduce the amount of cortisol released in your brain.

Strong Attention Span
Having strong focus and the ability to pay attention is a key factor in the amount of information your brain can process. When your body works out the level of neurotransmitters in your brain change and fire more regularly. One particular neurotransmitter hormone that your brain produces is called Norepinephrine. A low amount of Norepenephrine have been associated with lack of motivation, lack of energy, and depression. Higher levels of Norepinephrine and Dopamine concentrations influence attention and focus. This attention and focus are key to having a strong attention span.

Self-awareness is the ability to know oneself and ones surroundings. Having a healthy self-awareness of oneself is good for your mind and body. A high and positive self-awareness can help reduce your level of stress and increases self-esteem. When an individual works out their body produces endorphins which have been referred to as ‘the runners high’ or the ‘healthy persons drug’. Endorphins are an opioid chemical that makes the body feel good or energized. In addtion to the endorphin release, individuals who workout usually have a smaller waste line and better mental appearance of themselves which helps to create their positive self-awareness.

Problem Solving & Learning Skills
Brain Plasticity is the ability for the brain to create new neuronal connections. Exercise increases neurotrophic factors wich are essential in neuron survival. Exercise leads to increased axon regeneration and neurite outgrowth. This increased ability to learn will help with problem solving skills in the future.

So, there you have it… Working out can actually make you smarter. Okay, so there is no guarantee that it’s going to make you smarter, but it can definitely help aid in creating a healthier body which usually relates to a healthy mind. Besides if it makes you look better and it makes you feel better, why not try and see if it will make you think better.




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