The benefits of cardiovascular fitness have been shown include:
- Increased cerebral blood flow, which increases the supply of glucose and oxygen to brain tissue, therefore enhancing neurotransmitter availability and neural efficiency.
- Production of neurotrophic factors, such as BDNF, which is a critical factor for neurogenesis, angiogenesis, and synaptic plasticity
- Angiogenesis and blood vessel density and diameter has been demonstrated with increased aerobic exercise
- Higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness may increase the myelination of axons in certain brain regions
- Increased cardiorespiratory fitness has been shown to increase and preserve brain volumes in the hippocampus within the temporal lobes and the prefrontal cortex, as well as white matter integrity and the parietal lobes
- Beneficial changes in brain activity, likely due to a better oxygen supply. Functional activity is linked to the blood supply, and increased capillary density creates less distance between blood vessels and neurons, which promotes neuronal metabolism.
- Reduction in cardiovascular risk factors which are known to be associated with cognitive decline
- Moderate intensity aerobic has been shown to have positive impacts on memory and aspects of executive functioning
- High-intensity interval training may differentially increase processing speed, perhaps due to the increased speed demands on the nervous system