Lifting Weights Can Lift Your IQ

One saying I used to hear growing up was that weightlifters were meatheads, meaning they were not that smart. I lifted weights throughout college, and the notion that weightlifters were dumb bothered me. I knew I wasn’t dumb and many of the people I worked out with, or met in my gym, were engineers, attorneys, dentists or studying to be. For the past year I’ve been doing research for my next book on good thinking habits. This forced me to delve into the study of the brain. One of those areas is called neurogenesis and deals with the birth of brain cells (neurons). What I found in my research caught me by complete surprise and it’s this: weightlifting actually makes you smarter. So I thought I’d share some of that research as it relates to weightlifting and neurogenesis.

Neural stem cells (new brain cells) are born in the hippocampus and either divide into neural cells or glial cells (support cells for neurons). Neural cells are sent from the hippocampus to the dendrite gyrus, which acts like a traffic cop, ordering them to go to specific regions of the brain. Voluntary exercise increases the number of neural stem cells created by the hippocampus.

Here’s how it works. Exercise, such as lifting weights or any cardio (jogging, stair master, elliptical, biking etc.), delivers blood-soaked oxygen to the brain. The more you exercise, the higher the blood flow. This increased blood flow then feeds the brain with more glucose (brain fuel) and oxygen (which removes free radicals from the brain like a sponge, in effect cleaning the brain). Exercise also increases the production of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which takes place inside the hippocampus. BDNF is like miracle grow for the brain, helping it give birth to more neural cells and also helps increase in size, existing neural cells. In effect, exercise grows your brain by creating new brain cells and growing existing brain cells.

A neuron has one axon and multiple dendrites. An axon of one neuron connects with the dendrites of other neurons. This is called a synapse. There is a direct correlation between the number of axons and synapses an individual has and their intelligence. Anything that increases the number of axons and synapses, therefore, increases intelligence. Muscle movement increases the growth of axons. Lifting weights, therefore, increases the growth of axons, which helps contribute to increased synaptic activity.

People who lift weights are not meatheads after all. They are actually smarter than the average person. So, if you want to lift your IQ, start lifting weights.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
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  1. I like the detail you went into in this post. While your blog doesn’t seem fitness related, I’m glad you are explaining to your readers the value of working out. I always make a point to workout in the mornings before I go to work because I find it gives me a little boost throughout the day, but now it makes sense! I’m growing new brain cells! Cool stuff. I also run a blog (fitness related) feel free to drop by!

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