Exercise can change your brain's structure

Regular exercise changes the structure of the tissues of our body in obvious ways, e.g. B. by reducing fat stores and increasing muscle mass. Less visible, but perhaps more important, is the profound impact exercise has on them Structure of our brain – an influence that can protect and preserve Brain health and function during life. In fact, some experts believe that the human brain can depend on regular physical activity to function optimally throughout our lives.

Here are just a few ways that movement changes the structure of our brains.


Many studies suggest that exercise can protect our memory as we get older. This is because exercise has been shown to prevent the loss of total brain volume (which can lead to decreased cognitive function) as well as the shrinking of certain areas of the brain that are associated with memory. For example, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) study found that older adults received six months of exercise training increases brain volume.

Another study showed that older people can shrink the hippocampus (a region of the brain that is essential for learning and memory) reversed by walking regularly. This change was associated with improved memory function and an increase in protein Neutropic factor derived from the brain (BDNF) in the bloodstream.

BDNF is essential for healthy cognitive function because of its role in cell survival. plasticity (the brain’s ability to change and adapt from experience) and function. Positive associations between movement, BDNF and memory have been extensively investigated and demonstrated in young adults and elderly.

BDNF is also one of several proteins linked to adult neurogenesis, the brain’s ability to change its structure through Development of new neurons throughout adulthood. Neurogenesis occurs only in very few regions of the brain – one of which is the hippocampus – and can therefore be a central mechanism involved in learning and memory. Regular physical activity can protect memory over the long term Induction of neurogenesis about BDNF.

While this relationship between exercise, BDNF, neurogenesis, and memory is very well described in animal models, experimental and ethical constraints mean that it is relevant to the functioning of the human brain not that clear. Still, exercise-induced neurogenesis is being actively researched as a possible therapy for neurological and psychiatric disorderslike Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and depression.

Blood vessels

The brain is heavily dependent on blood flow and receives about 15% of the total body supply – although it only makes up 2-3% of the total mass of our body. This is because our nervous tissues need a constant supply of oxygen to function and survive. As neurons become more active, blood flow flows to the region where these neurons are located increases to meet demand. Hence, maintaining a healthy brain depends on maintaining a healthy network of blood vessels.

Regular exercise increases the growth of new blood vessels in the regions of the brain where neurogenesis occurs and provides an increased blood supply to aid their development new neurons. Exercise improves that too Health and function of existing blood vessels to ensure that the brain tissue receives a continuous supply of blood to meet its needs and keep it functioning.

After all, regular exercise can prevent and even treat hypertension (High blood pressure) which is a risk factor for Development of dementia. Exercise works in more options improve the health and function of blood vessels in the brain.


Recently, a growing body of research has focused on microglia, which are the brain’s resident immune cells. Their main function is to be constant Check the brain for potential threats from microbes or dying or damaged cells, and to clean up any damage they find.

With age, normal immune function declines and low-level chronic inflammation occurs in organs of the body, including the brain, where it increases the risk neurodegenerative diseaselike Alzheimer’s. As we age, microglia become less effective at cleaning up damage and less able to prevent disease and inflammation. This means Neuroinflammation can progressImpairment of brain functions – including memory.

But recently we showed that practice can Reprogram these microglia in the aged brain. Exercise has been shown to make the microglia more energy efficient and able to counteract neuroinflammatory changes that affect brain function. Exercise can also modulate neuroinflammation in degenerative states such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. This shows us that the effects of physical activity on immune function can be an important target for therapy and disease prevention.

So how can we make sure we’re doing the right kind of exercise – or getting enough of it – to keep the brain safe? As of now, we do not have enough evidence to develop specific guidelines for brain health, although results so far suggest that the greatest benefits are to be gained Aerobic exercise – like walking, running or cycling. It is recommended that adults at least 150 minutes a week Medium-intensity aerobic exercise combined with activities that maintain strength and flexibility for good overall health.

It must also be noted that researchers do not always find Exercise has positive effects about the brain in their studies – likely because different studies use different exercise programs and measures of cognitive function, making it difficult to directly compare studies and results. Regardless, numerous studies show us that exercise is beneficial for many aspects of our health. Hence, it is important that you get enough. We need to be aware that we are taking our time to be active – our brains will thank us for this in the years to come.

Áine Kelly, Professor of Physiology, Trinity College Dublin

This article is republished by The conversation under a Creative Commons license. read this original article.


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