11/05/2010 06:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Weekly Health Tip: Build Your Brain with Exercise

This fit cyclist, as visualized by, is an impressive example of how exercise can build lean muscles and a sturdy skeleton. But did you know that exercise can also protect and build up his brain? During exercise, the brain secretes more of a protein called BDNF--brain derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF protects existing neurons and axons, and encourages the growth of new nerve cells. The factor plays a role in memory and learning as well as metabolism. Another indicator of BDNF's power: Patients with Alzheimer's disease, major depression and other neurodegenerative diseases have lower levels of this protein. Your workout not only improves your strength, endurance and flexibility, it can help keep your brain at the top of its game.

Learn more about the benefits of exercise: Get Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise