4 Discoveries to Build Your Best Brain

Want to improve your memory, make better decisions and feel happier?

You can do it by building your best brain. It’s about how to get it to optimally function. How to build your super human brain…

It’s easier than you think. I promise that at least one of these four discoveries will be one you can use over the next week. Choose one now or start all four.

Let’s begin.

Get Moving – Choice #1

Activity affects the mind in more ways than we once knew.

From:  The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer

Recent studies credibly have established that exercise stimulates the creation of new brain cells, pumps up existing ones, improves mood, blunts aging-related memory loss, and sharpens decision making.

Exercise is good for the brain. What’s the best type for your best brain?

They’re all good. Yet for the best brain, Gump’s method rules.

Run Forrest Run. (And if you haven’t seen this film – fun for the family, click here.)

From: Gretchen Reynolds

In one of the few experiments to directly compare the effects of different types of regimens on mental functioning, twenty-one students at the University of Illinois were asked to memorize a string of letters and then pick them out from a list flashed at them. Then they were asked to do one of three things for thirty minutes, sit quietly, run on a treadmill, or lift weights – before performing the letter test again.

After an additional thirty minute cool down, they were tested once more.

On subsequent days, the students returned to try the other two options. They were noticeably quicker and more accurate on the retest after they ran compared with the other two options, and they continued to perform better when they tested after the cool down.

Gump was on to something. Running fires the brain to wire in healthy ways.

Not a runner?  No problem. Try other types of cardio exercise. From old school jumping jacks to modern day elliptical machines to a brisk walk around the neighborhood. All forms of cardio build your best brain.


Exercise increases the flow of blood to the part of brain connected with learning and memory by thirty percent. Yup, a whopping 30%!

From: Spark

In his study, Small put a group of volunteers on a three-month exercise regimen and then took pictures of their brains. By manipulating a standard MRI machine’s processing – essentially zooming in and cocking the shutter open – he captured images of the newly formed capillaries required for nascent neurons to survive. What he saw was that the capillary volume in the memory area of the hippocampus increased by 30 percent, a truly remarkable change.

Want more evidence? Try four letters. B-D-N-F.

BDNF stands for Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. It’s hard to talk about the brain without some crazy science, but we’ll keep it simple with four letters.

BDNF is a brain protein that pumps out significantly during and after exercise. Its job supports your brain’s ability to remember better.

From:  The First 20 Minutes; Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter and Live Longer

[BDNF is] “known to help neurons (brain cells) develop and thrive. It also allows the brain to consolidate short-term memories into long-term ones.

Cardio helps your memory. Remember that!

(To learn how to master your exercise genetics to increase your endurance, click here).

And remember this. Sometimes for your best brain, it’s worth the weight.

Lift Weights – Choice #2

Cardio may increase BDNF to build your best memory, but what about for better decision making?

Answer: Weight train, twice a week.

From: Gretchen Reynolds

A group of women age 65 or older completed twelve months of light-duty weight training twice a week. They did not do any endurance training, such as walking. At the end of the year, they performed significantly better on tests of mental processing ability than a control group of women. Functional MRI scans of both groups showed that portions of the brain that control decision making and other types of thinking were more active in weight trainers.

It’s a good decision to lift weights. You don’t have to go heavy and any age can benefit.

(To master your exercise genetics for muscle tone and strength, click here).

It’s also a good decision to build your best brain with nature’s support.

Merge with Nature – Choice #3

Your best brain is a happy one and it’s easy with nature. Whether you’re getting physical with vigorous outdoor activities or just taking it easy, nature fuels a happy brain.

From: Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do

Responses in the Mappiness study showed that people were happier pursuing both vigorous (sports, running, exercise, walking, hiking) and lower-energy (bird-watching, gardening, “nature-watching”) activities outside than they were indoor or urban activities.

And there’s a bonus if you’re near water!

From: Wallace J. Nichols

the highest increase in happiness in an outdoor environment occurred when people were near water.

Being near, in, or on water supports a happier brain.

But what if you’re not a swimmer, don’t really like cardio, weight lifting or getting active in nature? Or you just don’t have much time?

Is there a short-cut to building your best brain? Perhaps an easier way?

There is!

Picture This  – Choice #4

If you can’t get out in nature, bring it to you. Put a nature picture in your office or somewhere in your home where you’ll see it.

Here’s why.

From: Neuroreport

A study done in California using fMRI showed that especially pleasant nature views activated part of the reward system in the brain – an area rich in opioid receptors that triggers feelings of wellness.

And for more brain benefits, add water.

From: Blue Mind

In  2010 researchers at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom asked forty adults to rate over one hundred pictures of different natural and urban environments. Respondents gave higher ratings for positive mood, preference, and perceived restorativeness in ANY picture containing water, whether it was in a natural landscape or an urban setting, as opposed to those photos without water.

In addition to the feelings of wellness and positive moods, nature pictures foster another brain benefit – empathy.

From: Korean Journal of Radiology

the anterior cingulate and insula – areas of the brain associated with empathy – become more active when subjects viewed nature scenes.

Why is empathy essential?

It supports your best brain with improved relationships.

Less tension + deeper relationships = happier you.

From: Empathy

Empathy can also deepen our friendships and help create new ones – especially useful in a world where one in four people suffer from loneliness.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in some cases, as we discovered, those with water build our happiest brains!

Building your best brain in now easy and one step away, thanks to new science discoveries.  Begin today with a choice that works for you!


  1. Get Moving – Cardiovascular exercise, such as running or doing jumping jacks, increases blood flow to the brain to support improved learning and BDNF, a brain protein that supports better memory.
  2. Lift Weights – Weight training twice a week supports better decision making.
  3. Merge with Nature – Activities outside boost happiness. Being near water raises happiness levels even more.
  4. Picture This – Images of natural landscapes trigger feelings of wellness and empathy.

Thank you for reading!


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About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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