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Exercise and The Brain in Newsweek

The new edi­tion of Newsweek brings us a great cov­er sto­ry titled Stronger, Faster, Smarter. “Exer­cise does more than build mus­cles and help pre­vent heart dis­ease. New sci­ence shows that it also boosts brainpower—and may offer hope in the bat­tle against Alzheimer’s.” Check it out!

We addressed the ques­tion Is phys­i­cal fit­ness impor­tant to your brain fit­ness? recent­ly:

Accord­ing to Fred Gage, PhD, of the Salk Insti­tute for Bio­log­i­cal Stud­ies, “We now know that exer­cise helps gen­er­ate new brain cells, even in the aging brain.

Accord­ing to the research of Richard Smeyne, PhD at Saint Jude Children’s Research Hos­pi­tal in Mem­phis, with just two months of exer­cise there are more brain cells and that high­er lev­els of exer­cise were sig­nif­i­cant­ly more ben­e­fi­cial than low­er amounts, although any exer­cise was bet­ter than none. He also found that start­ing an exer­cise pro­gram ear­ly in life to be an effec­tive way to low­er the risk of devel­op­ing Parkinson’s dis­ease lat­er in life.

As lit­tle as three hours a week of brisk walk­ing has been shown to halt, and even reverse, the brain shrink­age that starts in a person’s 40s, espe­cial­ly in the regions respon­si­ble for mem­o­ry and high­er cog­ni­tion. The exer­cise increased the brain’s vol­ume of gray mat­ter (actu­al neu­rons) and white mat­ter (con­nec­tions between neu­rons).

Increased blood flow to the brain trig­gers bio­chem­i­cal changes that spur the pro­duc­tion of new brain neu­rons. Brain exer­cise then pro­tects these fledg­ling neu­rons by bathing them in nerve growth fac­tor and form­ing func­tion­al con­nec­tions with neigh­bor­ing neu­rons.

Dr. Kramer said “After only three months, the peo­ple who exer­cised had the brain vol­umes of peo­ple three years younger. This is the first time any­one has shown that exer­cise increas­es brain vol­ume in the elder­ly. It sug­gests that aer­o­bic exer­cise can stave off neur­al decline, and even roll back some nor­mal age-relat­ed dete­ri­o­ra­tion of brain struc­ture.

Fur­ther Read­ing

And don’t for­get that good brain health requires, on top on phys­i­cal exer­cise, sound nutri­tion, stress man­age­ment AND men­tal exer­cise.

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4 Responses

  1. Kate Anderson says:

    I would like more infor­ma­tion, please. I am especail­ly inter­est­ed in the “Train the Train­er” pro­gram.

  2. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Kate: will send you infor­ma­tion offline. Thanks for con­tact­ing us.

  3. Karen Lovaas says:

    Do you know where I can see a copy of the Small and Gage study? Thank you!

  4. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Karen,

    You can find all the abstracts to Gage’s papers in PubMed or Google Schol­ar
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=fred+gage&spell=1

    They usu­al­ly require sub­scrip­tion-you can prob­a­bly get the whole papers in your clos­est uni­ver­si­ty

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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