We know that regular exercise is fantastic for our bodies, with benefits including growth, strengthening, cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, and postural alignment. We also know that it’s beneficial for our minds through endorphins. Now a study has found out that exercise may actually help your brain grow too!
The study, which was conducted by New York University’s Langone Medical Center and other institutions, examined what happens in the brain during exercise. The study found that there was a surge of a substance in the brain sometimes referred to by scientists as ‘Miracle Gro.’
How Exercise Positively Affects Your Brain
The substance, which is officially called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), helps neurons to grow and also strengthens the synapses connecting neurons, therefore enabling the brain to function better. Although this particular study focused on how certain genes work inside the brain of mice, there were fascinating hints that the human brain might produce similar results.
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Two groups of mice were used in the study – one group took part in regular exercise, and the other group was sedentary. Put very simply, researchers found that the brains of mice that were active had a larger number of new cells in the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Yet, the sedentary mice did not show signs of this.
It is believed that exercise creates this by boosting the body’s production of BDNF, increasing the levels of it present in brain tissue. These results have only recently been found to be effective after an hour of vigorous activity. But, researchers from the study pointed out that they are only just beginning to learn how exercise alters the brain and that in general, it’s a great idea to keep active.
With so many benefits we know already being offered by exercise and new benefits being found, it’s great motivation to ensure regular exercise is part of your routine. After all, exercise clearly makes your muscles grow, and it may even help your brain grow too!