A brain cell is also known as a neuron. The average adult has 23 billion neurons. Each neuron is made up of one axon and multiple dendrites. Each axon and dendrite have multiple branches, just like trees. When neurons talk to each other, this is known as a synapse. Axons receive communications from another neuron through each one of its branches and dendrites send communications to other axons on other neurons through each one of its branches. The synaptic gap is an indentation on each dendrite that an axon branch sends its signals through. Think of each axon branch as a plug and each dendrite indentation as an outlet. The axon branch plugs into each dendrite outlet and viola, we have a connection.
20 – 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day has been proven to stimulate the growth of axon branches on each neuron. The number of axon branches you have is directly related to how intelligent you are. So aerobic exercise makes you more intelligent. Aerobic exercise becomes more important as we age because, as we age, we lose neurons if we do not use them. The average adult loses about 10% of its neurons during a lifetime from lack of use. Aerobic exercise helps keep existing neurons firing with other neurons and keeps them alive and healthy. Thus, the more we activate our neurons as we age, the higher the performance level of neurons and the greater the number of synaptic activity.
By making aerobic exercise a daily habit, you are keeping your brain alive and healthy.