Aerobic exercise stimulates the formation of nerve cells that enhance memory and learning, and improve mood
Exercise stimulates neurogenesis – the creation of new nerve cells – primarily in the hippocampus, affecting memory and learning while increasing key mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
Exercise also enhances brain plasticity, which is essential for recovery from injury and aging, and improves cognitive functions such as attention and memory, according to a report published by the website. “Neuroscience News”.
Despite ongoing research, current evidence confirms the strong role of physical activity in promoting brain health and cognitive function, emphasizing the importance of incorporating regular exercise into our lifestyles, to achieve the following positives:
1. Aerobic exercise and brain volume: Regular aerobic exercise such as running can increase the size of the hippocampus, preserve vital brain matter, and improve spatial memory and cognitive function.
2. Exercise and sleep quality: Regular physical activity can enhance sleep quality, which in turn supports memory consolidation and brain detoxification.
3. Physical activity and stress reduction: Exercise can help reduce stress by increasing levels of norepinephrine and endorphins, which are chemicals that moderate the brain’s stress response and promote feelings of happiness.
Rapidly developing scientific research
The neuroscience of fitness, a fascinating intersection between physical activity and brain health, is a rapidly evolving area of scientific research. The neuroscience of fitness explores the profound effects of regular exercise on the brain and nervous system, revealing important implications for overall health and quality of life.
Formation of new nerve cells
One of the key discoveries is the relationship between exercise and the formation of new brain neurons, which occur primarily in the hippocampus, a region of the brain essential for learning and memory.
Regular physical activity triggers the release of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which nourishes existing neurons and encourages the growth and development of new neurons and synapses.
Aerobic exercises such as running and swimming are particularly beneficial, as they stimulate neurogenesis and, along with increasing the size of the anterior hippocampus, lead to improved spatial memory.
Improve perception and mood
Exercise has also been linked to the preservation of white and gray matter in the frontal, temporal and parietal cortex, regions that normally shrink with age and are vital for cognitive function.
Physical activity also increases levels of certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which are chemicals that play a key role in regulating mood, mental alertness and focus, which could explain why physical activity is often associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Physical activity also enhances brain plasticity and its ability to adapt and form new neural connections throughout life, an especially important feature for recovering from brain injury and counteracting the cognitive decline associated with aging.
The researchers suggest that the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain responsible for these functions, responds positively to physical exercise, likely due to increased blood flow, which provides more oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
Reduce stress and inflammation
Exercise helps relieve or reduce stress by increasing concentrations of norepinephrine and endorphins, chemicals that dampen the brain’s stress response and induce feelings of happiness.
The benefits of physical fitness extend beyond the brain, as regular physical activity reduces inflammation in the body, which can positively affect the brain as chronic inflammation is linked to various neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Promising results however
But despite these promising findings, there is still much to be explored in the neuroscience of fitness. Questions remain about how different forms of exercise (such as aerobic versus resistance exercise) affect the brain and how factors such as age, genetics, and initial fitness level can influence these effects.
However, current evidence strongly supports that regular physical activity has significant benefits for brain health and cognitive function, underscoring the value of incorporating regular physical exercise into our daily lives for both physical and mental health benefits.
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