Running is Like Steroids For the Brain


Tom Corley boats - cropI was raised in a good old fashioned Irish Catholic family in the New York City area and we had some bad money problems growing up. I remember when money was, well not there, and that gets to everyone in the household. It got to my Mom, that’s for sure. She would be in the kitchen, drinking coffee while we (the kids) were in the kitchen and she would say things like “money is the root of all evil” or “it’s harder for a rich person to get into heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle”, or something like that. Her best one, I think, was, “God must love poor people because he sure makes a lot of them.”

And my Dad, who was at one time the Democratic leader on Staten Island, and his close political friends, would, on the campaign bus or in campaign headquarters, tell us (the kids) that rich people needed to be taxed more in order to shrink the wealth gap (the disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor). The idea seemed sound, take money from those who have a lot of it and give it to those who have the least of it (the poor).

Well, I bought into all of that. And then I started studying the habits of the rich and the poor and as I was studying the data from both groups I started to notice some things that simply did not hold up to my youthful indoctrination. There were a number of data points that really stuck out and made me scratch my head. One was exercise. According to my data, the rich exercised much more than the poor. Now, my youthful indoctrination taught me that rich people didn’t work nearly as hard as the poor and that they indulged in all of the pleasures that life could afford them. I just assumed all rich people were fat and lazy. So, either this statistic was wrong or an anomaly, or my rich vs. poor programming was wrong.

It took about a year for me to realize that the rich vs. poor programming I had received as a child was the opposite of reality. The 233 rich people in my study shared nothing in common with the evil, greedy, fat and lazy rich people that existed in my indoctrinated mind.

Let me get back to the exercise data I gathered on the rich and poor. One data point I uncovered indicated that 76% of the rich ran or jogged 30 minutes a day at least 4 days a week, while only 23% of the poor had this habit. I have since continued my research, particularly in the area of habits and their effect on the brain. Here’s what I found with respect to the habit of running or jogging:

The brain uses 20% of your oxygen reserves. Running or jogging increases oxygen flow into the brain. This nourishes brain cells and acts like a janitorial crew, soaking up the waste (fee radicals) inside each brain cell. This additional oxygen from running and jogging helps make the brain cleaner and healthier. Twenty – thirty minutes of exercise every day has been found in numerous studies to stimulate the growth of the axon branches on each brain cell. The number of axon branches you have is directly correlated to how intelligent you are. Those with more axon branches on their brain cells are more intelligent than those with less. Exercise also increases blood flow into the Dentrate Gyrus. The Dentrate Gyrus is part of the brain’s Hippocampus, a region involved in memory formation and neurogenisis (birth of new brain cells). Running and jogging, it turns out, also stimulates the production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDFN). BDFN is miracle grow for brain cells, which keeps brain cells growing and expanding.

In a new study, which was just published in the February, 2016 edition of the Journal of Physiology, researchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland compared, head-to-head, the impacts of running, weight training and high-impact intensity interval training on the brain. Here’s what they found:

Running or jogging increases brain volume more than any other exercise. When we run or jog, we actually create more new brain cells at a rate that is double or even triple that of other types of exercise.

It’s now very clear why rich people had developed this habit of running or jogging – running and jogging improves brain performance. It makes you smarter. But what’s more interesting is the fact that the rich had this running or jogging habit log before they made their first million. They had been doing it for years. They were fine tuning their brains their entire lives, making them smarter. Their brains, because of this lifelong habit, were superior to the brains of those who did not run or jog. And when you have a superior brain, especially in the fast-paced world in which we live, you have a significant advantage when it comes to making money. Plus running or jogging requires discipline in the early going (until it becomes a habit, which takes about two months), which increases our self-control or discipline muscles. Not only are rich people smarter because they run or jog, they’re more disciplined, because they run or jog. Now, I’ll concede that running and jogging are not the only reason the rich get rich. But it is one of the reasons. Running or jogging are another success weapon in your holster. Let’s face it, smarts and discipline are formidable success weapons for those in pursuit of wealth and success. So, if you want to become rich, start running or jogging. It will literally put your brain on steroids. The smarter you get, the more opportunities you begin to see. And opportunities are all around us.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking
    for. Do you offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
    I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on most
    of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome web log!

    • I have, on occasion, included articles from other writers as long as the articles are tied in to: habits, wealth creation, success. Email me the articles and I promise to review them and get back to you (

  2. Donald K. says:

    Completely agree about your running ideas! All the movement you perform keeps you alive! I personally run about 20km per week and keep advising it to all my fellows! <3

  3. Hello Thomas. Very informative and useful blog. “Running Increases brain volume more”, I never knew it before. Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

  4. Love it! I always notice a massive difference on days that I run vs days I don’t at work. Good to know that science backs up the fact I should keep up my running habit.

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