Time after time, study after study keeps coming back chock full of praise and sometimes scientific amazement at the natural and tremendously beneficial health effects of aerobic exercise. It has been found that aerobic exercise has wide-ranging and long-last benefits ranging from muscle tone, increased metabolism, decreased risks of cancer, increased brain function, expanded respiratory function, and extremely pronounced positive effects on mood and general life outlook.

Here is the most important thing many people don't know about aerobic exercise's benefits:

Increased neurogenesis.

Within the last 10 years or so, neuroscientists have amended the once mistakenly dogmatized belief that the human brain comes into the world with a finite number of brain cells, loses them gradually over the course of a lifetime, and intensively during a boxing match or drinking bout, and hence senility and age-related mental decline are simply the result of so many functioning brain cells having died off over time. On the contrary, it is now known that the brain continues to produce new brain cells, establish new connections, and bolster existing neural networks according to the activities, efforts and health circumstances of a healthy human regardless of their age.

Jogging, for example, increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain, as well as raises the rate of neurogenesis, or, the forming of new brain cells, not only during and after exercise but for up to 18 hours following a workout.

The implications of this simple fact are absolutely astounding when you consider the fact that depression is a mental disease whose major feature is a decreased or stagnant rate of neurogenesis. When the brain is not forming new brain cells and establishing new connections (learning), it is simply stuck in place, which explains why sufferers of depression often self-describe feeling as though they are stuck in a rut and can't get out.

For depression sufferers, the benefits of aerobic exercise are actually two-fold, since they will begin flooding their brains with endorphins (nature's opiates) and neurotransmitters associated with pleasure, contentedness, and pain-relief within the first 7 minutes of their workout. This is a powerful natual cocktail that obliterates depressive feelings. Furthermore, these elevated pleasure levels will continue up to 18 hours after their workout is over. Secondly, their rate of neurogenesis will be increased, so that they can learn new behaviors more effectively and move past troubling recurrent thoughts or difficult situations that brought about their depression.