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Keep your brain healthy by exercising

Exercise offers countless physical benefits. Whether you choose to run, play hockey or take to the tennis court, physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and even improve bone health. But there are also myriad mental benefits, many of which you may not even know about. Numerous studies have shown working out can strengthen your mind - more than enough reason to lace up your shoes and hit the treadmill.

Stress reduction
Stress carries a host of negative health consequences, but exercising can help you avoid them. According to the American Council on Exercise, scientists have found that working up a sweat is associated with feeling less tense and anxious. Not only that, but up to two hours after a bout of exercise, you'll feel a sense of euphoria brought on by endorphins, which are sometimes referred to as "feel good" hormones. Perhaps more than anything, exercise can help take your mind off of what is bothering you, whether it is work, friends, family or school. 

Maintain brain function
Researchers are continually looki
ng for ways for people to boost and maintain cognitive function as they grow older, and exercise may be one of the best options. A 2012 study from Scotland found that people who are the most physically active during mid-life tend to have lower rates of brain shrinkage as they get older. In fact, the benefits may be greater than those offered by mental activity.

"People in their seventies who participated in more physical exercise, including walking several times a week, had less brain shrinkage and other signs of aging in the brain than those who were less physically active," said study author Dr. Alan J. Gow.

Increase productivity
Regardless of whether you've been trying to get things done around the house or feeling sluggish at work, sometimes it can be a struggle to be productive. However, exercise can help. A study from Sweden's University of Stockholm found that exercise provide employees with more energy, which later translated into increases in productivity.

Whatever your sport of choice is, the message is clear: Help keep your brain healthy by staying physically fit. 

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