Neurogenesis – Grow New Brain Cells Through Exercise

Back in medical school we were told that we were given a certain number of brain cells and that was it for life. However, this idea that humans do not grow new brain cells is now fully demonstrated to be wrong. How exciting it is that we possess the ability to grow brain cells, a process called neurogenesis. Not only that, but we retain this ability throughout our entire lifetimes. So you might be wondering: what can I do to increase neurogenesis? In this video we will explore at least one way to make this happen.

  • Certainly great news that we have it within our grasp to generate new brain cells. I can’t help wondering just how much, how intense, my aerobic exercise should be to optimise the neurogenesis effect. I’m 72 years of age, still 20 kgs overweight after losing over 30 kgs, and I walk briskly enough to generate a great deal of sweat for about 1 hour & 40 minutes most days. I have averaged over 170 kms per month for the past year…best month was November – 255 kms. How am I doing?

    • Stella

      Same question Les. I’m no expert but it certainly sounds like you’re doing excellent! What do you say Dr. Perlmutter?

      • Thanks Stella, especially for the link. I was pleased to read about the effect for Parkinson’s’ patients as I was diagnosed with PD earlier this year…mild, so far, but concerning. I enjoy my daily walks and the beneficial effect on my blood pressure and blood glucose. In fact, just learning about this stuff is inspiring and motivating. I’ve even increased my exercise intensity the last few days, reducing my 10 km time from 100 minutes to 93 minutes today…intermittent jogging.

      • Guest

        I agree – while stretching is a good idea, it’s the aerobics that turn on BDNF and stimulate neurogenesis

  • wassup

    Thank you for this information. I wonder: does it apply more specifically to motor neurons, if you are unlucky enough to have lost many of these (eg motor neuron disease)

    • soudi

      I am 67 young and disabled ( psoriatic arthritis) is there anyway to do the exercise without jumping?

      • Bakunin

        stationary bicycle, elliptical, swimming, rowing etc. just google it. The important thing is for an exercise to be aerobic you have to get your heart rate over a certain number (like, maybe 125). google that too.

        • David Perlmutter

          Those are some good suggestions.

      • Gluten Free Lady

        Swimming is the best exercise for someone with Arthritis.

        • soudi

          thank you .

  • Artlynch artlynch@avidaviator.

    Wouldn’t resistance training give you the same results as aerobic exercise?

    It’s been proved (Dr. D. Mcguff, Body By Science) that High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) is more beneficial for cardiovascular and other body needs. In addition, there’s no problems with joint damage as there may be with aerobic exercise.

  • zenajann

    I doubt the aerobic part because some people have back injuries and still exercise without aerobic jumping.

  • Alan

    Is there a recommended dose of Omega-3-DHA to take daily?

    • David Perlmutter

      Look to about 1,000mg/day.

      • Karen

        How much DHA to take for a brain injury, when trying to heal?

  • Bob G

    What type, frequency, duration, and intensity of aerobic exercise?

    • David Perlmutter

      Look to at least aim for 20min/day.

  • Bakunin

    Where’s the study on Omega 3 dha causing neurogenesis.

  • Barbara

    Dr. Perlmutter:
    Are you related to Henrietta Perlmutter by any chance?

  • Joe Morfei

    I have been following the Brain Grain diet for about 9 mos. My recent blood work showed a cholesteral level of 190. My doctor says it shouldn’t be over 100 and wants to put me on Lipitor. Dr. Perlmutter what in your opinion should the upper limit of cholesteral be?

    • dcohn
      • StupidPolice

        Great reply. Wholeheartedly agree (even though I’m not “spiritually inclined “)! I had that cancer diagnosis once – told them to stuff their surgery and treatment. A few months of endurance exercise, good nutrition and breathing (nasal – restricted breathing) and that cancer vanished. I was lucky in that I was strong minded enough despite having very little information. My partner is also now off her thyroid drugs after 14 years of that BS! Absolutely avoid doctors as long as you are conscious, breathing and your bones are intact.

        • Douglas Cohn

          Wow. Thank you for your kind words and again Wow. I whole heartedly commend you on beating that illness directly through your own power. That is easily said but takes work to achieve. People like you are what we need to show others it can be done.

          Love and Light.

  • Kimberly Williams

    What about yoga, particularly inversions that increase blood flow to the brain and backbends and vinyasa that increase cardiovascular fitness?

  • Pam

    Your video is not captioned. I could not get any info

  • Edmir Gagliardi


  • monique

    What about getting headaches after exercise? I started getting headaches at night, when I have done some extra exercise. Could you explain some factors? My dr did some tests but everything seems ok. I suspect that one factor is that I went low-carb for 2 months this summer. I never experienced headaches from exercise before going low-carb. The last month I have been including gluten-free starches (vegetable carbs/starch just did not do the trick) the headaches get less but do not disappear.
    If you could give some clues i would be grateful, thank you dr Perlmutter.

  • monique

    Dr Perlmutter, could you give information on getting headaches after exercise?
    This summer I went low-carb-high-fat for 2 months, I experienced severe headaches the night after exercise ( long walks). I never experienced that before. I have re-introduced a little more gluten-free starches (like rice, gluten-free oatmeal) and the headaches have become less severe but are still there.
    My dr did some tests and everything seemed ok. Have you any explanation?
    Thank you!
    best regards

    • David Perlmutter

      Could be hydration, or many things. May want to consult a physician.

      • monique

        Drinking enough water (sometimes with a pinch of seasalt) is something I pay attention to, my doctor could not find anything. The advice I got was to come back when it persisted.
        I keep all my exercise now low intensity but I miss going a little faster. I will up my starches a bit more and see what result that gives.
        Thank you!
        best regards

    • Kathie Heard

      headaches when heated and/or exercise: lack of salt (get sea salt tablets) or potassium, plus replenish with water or some safe hydration

  • Jane

    I’m interested in ordering some Nrf2. The phone number listed in Power Up Your Brain and the website do not allow direct access. What do I need to do to get this product?

  • suffered a TBI in May. still recovering. im at about 90% healed. I have had mulitple eeg tests completed. All were positive. Everyday im finding my mind going blank over small things. I was a very sharp person but as of late not as sharp. What is the next route I should take in addressing this matter? I see my neurologist next monday.

  • Doug Brunelle

    Keep in mind, though, that aerobic exercise (or resistance exercise) of a long duration can have a negative hormonal impact. “Prolonged, high-volume aerobic exercise is catabolic, raising cortisol levels and causing muscle loss in both men and women.75,76,77,78,79,80 – from Rob Faigin’s “Hormonally Intelligent Exercise, Chapter 21”, at http://www.hormonalfitness.com/pdfs/NHE-Chapter-21.pdf

    Perhaps keeping the duration of aerobic workouts to 45 minutes or less, but increasing the intensity through methods such as interval training (sprints) would be better than low-intensity, high-duration workouts.

    I’m curious if resistance (weight) training can also promote neurogenesis. It certainly seems to be more beneficial overall to the body than aerobic exercise, from a hormonal perspective.

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