Do you like to exercise? What's your favorite way to break a sweat? Do you prefer playing a team sport, like volleyball or baseball? Or do you like to run for miles and miles all by yourself? Maybe you would rather lift weights or do push-ups or sit-ups!

You know that exercise is good for your body. It helps your muscles grow stronger. It can also help keep your heart and other important organs in tip-top shape. But can it make you smarter?

Maybe! The work you do at school every day is like exercise for your brain. Learning and thinking definitely help you become smarter. But how can physical exercise help?

Researchers have learned that exercise can play a role in improving learning and memory. Basically, exercising can help you do what you do — whatever it is — better. More studies are needed, though, to determine exactly how exercise helps the brain function at its best.

Some researchers have ideas for how exercise might help, though. For example, scientists point out that exercise stimulates the body's nervous system, causing it to release chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that make us feel happy and calm.

This helps to explain why many people feel more alive and alert after exercising. And if you feel better, you can think more clearly and concentrate better. Overall, you can function at a higher level after exercise.

Others point to studies that show that exercise can stimulate the growth of new brain cells. As your brain gets bigger, the areas associated with memory and learning get bigger and overall brain function improves.

So how much exercise do you need to help your brain function at its best? Experts believe that as little as 15-30 minutes per day three times a week may be enough to improve brain performance. Thirty to sixty minutes per day four to five times a week is even better.

As with all exercise, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Exercise is good for your body in so many ways, so incorporate as much exercise as you can into your daily or weekly routine. Just take it easy starting out until your body adjusts to getting more exercise.

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