10/01/2012 08:12 am ET Updated Oct 01, 2012

Exercise Mental Benefits: How Workouts Boost Brain Power

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We all know that regular exercise is a major player in our ability to achieve a healthy weight, a longer life expectancy and a reduced risk of chronic diseases -- from cancers to heart disease to diabetes. And, as you've likely discovered, it makes you look good too. But when you hit the gym, your biceps and lats aren't the only muscles you're working. Mounting research shows that aerobic activity may be one of the most important factors in maintaining a sharp brain.

Just last week, a study revealed that exercise helped a group of men learn a new skill through enhanced "motor memory." But that's not the first or last word in the brawn-brain connection. Here are seven ways that getting your blood pumping is the best chance for gaining mental power too:

Exercise Does A Brain Good