Today’s Solutions: October 24, 2021

You probably know that exercise boosts brain function, but did you know that exercise can literally change the structure of our brains? Although these structural changes may not be visible to us, they can help us protect and preserve brain health and function throughout our lives.

Memory

Exercise has been shown to prevent the loss of total brain volume (which can lead to lower cognitive function), as well as preventing shrinkage in specific brain regions associated with memory. For example, one magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan study revealed that in older adults, six months of exercise training increases brain volume.

Another study found that shrinkage of the hippocampus (a brain region essential for learning and memory) in older people can be reversed by regular walking. This change was accompanied by improved memory function and an increase of the protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the bloodstream. BDNF is crucial for healthy cognitive function due to its roles in cell survival, plasticity (the brain’s ability to change and adapt from experience), and function

Blood vessels

Because our nervous tissues are in constant need of oxygen to function and survive, we have a lot of blood flow in our brains. In fact, some 15 percent of the body’s entire blood supply goes to the brain. With regular exercise, we increase the growth of new blood vessels in the brain regions where neurogenesis occurs, providing the increased blood supply that supports the development of these new neurons.

Exercise also improves the health and function of existing blood vessels, ensuring that brain tissue consistently receives adequate blood supply to meet its needs and preserve its function.

Inflammation

As described by The Conversation UK, more and more research is focusing on microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain. Their main function is to constantly check the brain for potential threats from microbes or dying or damaged cells, and to clear any damage they find. Microglia become less efficient as we age, but recently, new research shows that exercise can reprogramme these microglia in the aged brain. As a matter of fact, exercise was shown to make the microglia more energy-efficient and capable of counteracting neuroinflammatory changes that impair brain function. Exercise can also modulate neuroinflammation in degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

From the archive: This popular healthy living story was originally published on The Optimist Daily November 18, 2020.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Algae wrapped in droplets improves efficiency of artificial photosynthesis

In our quest for the most sustainable, most renewable sources of energy, humanity continues to look to nature for inspiration. One of nature’s most efficient energy systems is photosynthesis, which is how plants convert sunlight, ... Read More

Evidence shows Vikings arrived in Americas nearly 500 years before Columbus

Researchers have known for a while that Vikings from Greenland founded the village of L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the turn of the millennium, but now, a study published in Nature has finally pinpointed ... Read More

Egypt’s State Council swears-in the nation’s first female judges

Egypt’s State Council was established in 1946 and is an independent judicial body that deals with administrative disputes, disciplinary cases, appeals, reviews draft laws, decisions, and contracts that involve the government or a government-run body. ... Read More

Is group or individual work more productive? Here’s what science says

Are you a group project person or do you prefer to fly solo? We all have our work preferences, but what does science say about teamwork and productivity? A new study conducted by Quartz aims ... Read More

Wildlife filmaker provides a unique insight into the daily lives of bees

You may have seen bees flying around your backyard or local park, but it can be difficult for the naked human eye to grasp the full complexity of the lives of these pollinators. During the ... Read More