The Science Behind Why Running Makes You Smarter

“Go for a run” is common advice given whenever you need to clear your head, manage out of control emotions, or just reset your day, and it turns out there is science to back jogging as a prescription for some of what ails you. According to New York Magazine , scientists have “identified a robust link between aerobic exercise and subsequent cognitive clarity.” They’ve also disproven the theory that our brains are unable to create new neurons in adulthood, finding that one activity—aerobic exercise—does birth new neurons. These new cells appear in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain associated with learning and memory.

Other recorded activity to the brain that results from running includes increased blood flow to the frontal cortex, which could explain that burst of clarity that comes after a good jog. The same area has also been linked to the regulation of emotions, which means that if you are feeling angry, sad, or frustrated, a 30-minute run could be just what the doctor ordered as a means of achieving zen instead.

New York Magazine posits that there’s one final benefit to be gained from a good jog, one which goes against the current trend towards mindfulness. They call it “mindlessness”, otherwise known as daydreaming, and they cite a 2013 article by psychologists touting the importance of letting our minds wander. “Having to reread a line of text three times because our attention has drifted away matters very little if that attention shift has allowed us to access a key insight, a precious memory or make sense of a troubling event.”

So, if you want to blow off some steam, solve a problem or work through an issue, or just improve your memory, we suggest you toss on some Ivy Park and get going, stat.