We go to school to get smarter and go to the gym to get stronger, right? It turns out that exercise also benefits your brain. There is a long list of benefits to the brain from exercise, including:
- improved learning and memory
- protection from neurodegeneration
- alleviation of depression
- improved blood flow to the brain
- communication improvements between neurons, and
- growth of new neurons
Both human and animal studies suggest that exercise has broad effects on overall brain health. In a research article published in Trends in Neuroscience, researchers propose a possible reason for why there are such global positive effects of exercise on the brain.
They suggest that growth factors in the central and peripheral nervous system are making positive changes in the brain. Growth factors are sets of molecules that occur naturally and serve to stimulate cellular growth and healing. Growth factors help brain cells live and thrive.
Researchers think that by exercising and increasing the cascades of growth factors in the brain, there is a protective effect against inflammation. Inflammation may be the root cause of many of the ways the brain begins to function less optimally, gets ‘sick,” or ages.
So when you are at the gym exercising, you can keep in mind that you are also upregulating your growth factors, lowering inflammation and boosting your brain health!
Carl W.Cotman, Nicole C.Berchtold, Lori-AnnChristie (2007) Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation, Trends in Neurosciences, Review. Volume 30, Issue 9, Pages 464-472