That exercise is good for you is not exactly a revelation; however, according to research, the more you know about those benefits, the more likely you'll be to engage in physical activity. And you might be surprised to read how the mental benefits of exercise stack up against the physical.

If you, like me, consider watching Jeopardy or playing Candy Crush to be mental exercise, you may be thinking about things all wrong. According to Gregory Scott Brown, MD, FAIHM, founder and director of the Center for Green Psychiatry, physical activity actually grows the brain in size, just like it does your muscles. It also increases the brain's complexity.

"Aerobic exercise, specifically, has been found to lead to an increase in blood flow in brain regions like the hippocampus, an area involved in learning, memory, and controlling stress," he says. "Some theories suggest that exercise increases a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor, which supports brain health, improves cognitive skills, and helps reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety."

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