On Vitality

The neuroscience of creating vitality

The Neuroscience of Vitality, Tip 3: Boost IQ with BDNF

Get notiecably smarter with BDNF

BDNF brain workout
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As a practicing psychiatrist, I have gathered my top seven neuroscience tips for vitality that have proven to be useful for virtually all of my patients, and I am eager to share them with you. In my previous articles, you learned about neuroplasticity and mirror neurons. Today, in my third vitality tip, you’ll learn how to boost your intelligence with BDNF.

Our brains secret an amazing chemical called BDNF (brain-deprived neurotrophic factor). What this means is that when you exercise, you are actually getting smarter, not just fitter. The neurotrophic factor makes it easier to learn.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to make sure they could find their way home, and they couldn’t exactly rely on Google Maps. So when they went out for a long trek, their brains secreted this highly-effective chemical to help them return safely.  

Once we recognize the power of BDNF, we owe it ourselves and our children to make sure exercise is a major part of our daily routine. It no longer makes sense to say “I don’t have time to exercise.” Everything you do after the exercise will be more efficient.

I wish I knew this when I was in medical school and gave up years at the gym...

Recommended reading: Born to Run by Christopher McDougal

Eva Ritvo, M.D. is vice chair of psychiatry at the University of Miami and co-author of The Beauty Prescription: The Complete Formula for Looking and Feeling Beautiful.

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