There’s even more evidence that one type of exercise is the closest thing to a miracle drug that we have: by Erin Brodwin

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Want an all-natural way to lift your mood, improve your memory, and protect your brain against age-related cognitive decline?
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Get moving.
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A wealth of recent research, including a new study published this month, suggests that any type of exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you moving and sweating for a sustained period of time – known as aerobic exercise – has a significant, overwhelmingly beneficial impact on the brain.
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“Aerobic exercise is the key for your head, just as it is for your heart,” write the authors of an article in the Harvard Medical School blog “Mind and Mood.”
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While some of the benefits – like a lift in mood – can emerge as soon as a few minutes into a sweaty bike ride, others – like improved memory – might take several weeks to crop up.
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That means that the best type of fitness for your mind is any aerobic exercise that you can do regularly and consistently for at least 45 minutes at a time.
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In the latest study to assess the benefits of aerobic workouts on the brain, researchers looked to hundreds of breast cancer survivors.
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They wanted to see if activities like walking and swimming could have any effect on “chemo brain,” a commonly-reported side effect of breast cancer treatment that involves memory loss and difficulties focusing.
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Since previous research had suggested that regular workouts could help protect against age-related cognitive decline, the researchers wanted to find out if those results would hold true for cancer survivors too.
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They gave nearly 300 breast cancer survivors accelerometers to track their daily activity and access to a specially-designed iPad app called BrainBaseline outfitted with quizzes designed to measure their attention and memory.
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At the end of a week, people who’d done aerobic exercise every day were not only significantly less tired than those who did little to no exercise, but also did significantly better on the app’s quizzes.
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part one

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