To be a brainiac, get sweating. A study from Oregon Health & Science University revealed that even short bouts of exercise improve our capacity to learn. Researchers found that when a mouse ran on its wheel for two hours, it “turned on” a gene responsible for triggering the growth of synapses and dendritic spines among neurons in the hippocampus, the region of the brain where memories are formed.
“The changes we saw would be the equivalent of going to the gym for an hour,” says study author and neuroscientist Gary Westbrook. “This means you don’t have to be a marathoner or work out a ton to get the benefits.”
Prior studies looked at exercise’s impact over weeks or months, but it seems a single session can alter the brain. So if you’re in the midst of a challenging work project, still set aside some gym time.