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Feb 11, 2023

How Exercise Creates Super-Brains

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, neuroscience

We all know that exercise is good for our health. But besides lowering the risk of obesity or type II diabetes, exercise has also been shown to benefit our brain. More precisely, exercise modifies parts of the brain and improves memory, attention and improves mood. Regular exercise further lowers the risk to suffer from dementia or depression. But how does exercise benefit our brains?

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Philosophers have speculated for centuries that exercise promotes our brain functionality but only a few decades ago, scientists uncovered that this is true. Studies have shown that children who are more athletic perform better in creativity, concentration, maths verbal and IQ tests. These children also tend to have a larger hippocampus and basal ganglia both of which are important for memory and attention span. Adults who started to workout regularly also have changes in their brain and perform better in various tests. There are several mechanisms which explain this phenomenon. When we exercise, brain cells release VEGF which helps to supply the brain with oxygen. Moreover, neurotrophins are released when we workout which helps the survival of brain cells. Exercise also seems to improve neuroplasticity through the same pathways. Since exercise leads to the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, workouts also have been used to treat mental disorders such as depression. In various studies it was seen exercise helps to alleviate the symptoms of people who suffer from major depression.
The literature suggests roughly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week might be optimal to curb the risk of heart disease and 19 other chronic diseases. Concerning brain health, 120 minutes of moderate exercise a week might be enough to get all the benefits we have seen before. But even if you do less you might see a difference in the long run. In general, aerobic exercise seemed to have the best impacts on your brain. Jogging, running, swimming and all other forms of aerobic sports might give the benefits we have seen in this video!

References:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-018-0275-4
https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.0905307106
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20693803/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025619616300477
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02658/full.
https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.1176/ajp.2007.164.2.350a.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes…1404097110
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702700/pdf/nihms117644.pdf.
https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/archives/spr2020/entr…stPhilSpor.
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00762/full.
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23259671211001129
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00509/full.
https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/physical-activity-brain-health/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6943756/pdf/main.pdf.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5457513/pdf/ncomms15557.pdf.
https://positivepsychology.com/exercise-neurological-benefits/

00:00–00:53 Intro.
00:53–2:15 History of Exercise.
2:15–4:55 Exercise Transforms Our Brains.
4:55–8:35 What happens when we Exercise?
8:35–12:11 The Best Exercises for the Brain.

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