We all know how great exercise is for us, but were any of us aware that exercise can help our brains? More specifically, exercise can help make our brains grow.
According to an article by Dr. Mercola, research says that exercise has the ability to promote neurogenesis, the brain’s ability to adapt and grow new brain cells regardless of age.
The hippocampus, linked to learning and memory, is receptive to neuron growth in response to endurance exercise. Researchers have found that exercise stimulates the creation of a protein called FNDC5. This stimulates the production of another protein, which then stimulates the growth of new nerves and synapses. It also helps to preserve the survival of existing brain cells, according to this research.
Areas in your brain associated with memory and learning are strengthened and renewed after physical activity, just like a muscle is. Besides making your brain grow, exercise increases the blood flow to our brains and increases the production of nerve-protecting compounds.
Doctors think that physical activity may also help those suffering Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s at a late age. In a study on mice, physical activity reduced damaging plaque in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s. Research from the University of Edinburgh looked at more than 600 people age 70 and older who exercised regularly for three years. After those three years, their brains were scanned for age-related changes. Those that exercised the most had the least brain shrinkage.
Kirk Erickson, PhD at the University of Pittsburgh said that exercise is “one of the most promising non-pharmaceutical treatments to improve brain health.”
As if you needed another excuse to get up and exercise, you don’t even need to join a gym. Walk around the city or the neighborhood for about an hour a day—that’s all you need to benefit!
Making your brain grow sounds silly, but this research suggests that new nerves will enhance your brain’s function. Like the rest of your body, your brain needs exercise to. Get up and get moving!
How do you keep your brain active?