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Sure, running is good for your waistline—and, OK, it also helps you shake the day off—but according to a recent study published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism, it also causes your brain to function and retain information better.

Here’s the deal: Basically, when you run, your muscles contract and pump a bunch of stuff (including proteins) into your bloodstream. Eventually, some of those proteins make their way to your brain. One in particular—called cathepsin B—kicks into high gear when you run. It’s kind of like a superhero protein, because it not only helps your muscles recover, but it speeds up memory and learning, too.

And according to researchers, the harder you pound the pavement, the more cathepsin B you produce.

If that’s not motivation to push from a ten- to a nine-minute mile, we don’t know what is. 

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