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.


  1. Kate Anderson on March 29, 2007 at 11:53

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

  2. Alvaro on March 29, 2007 at 5:29

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

  3. Karen Lovaas on April 13, 2007 at 9:33

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

  4. Alvaro on April 15, 2007 at 9:45

    Hel­lo Karen,

    You can find all the abstracts to Gage’s papers in PubMed or Google Scholar

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

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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