Exercise is Good For Your Brain

A study in the Journal of Neuroscience proves that exercise is beneficial to the brain by causing more neurons to be formed in a critical brain area, contrary to an earlier study that said it can cause people to forget old memories.


Running is shown in this animal study to increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus. (Flickr / Creative Commons / Brett Lohmeyer)

Exercise is thought to be beneficial because of neurogenesis, or creation of new neurons, in the hippocampus, a critical brain structure to memory and learning. A study published in the journal Science said that exercise can cause mice to forget older memories. This came as a surprise to many scientists.

The researchers in the earlier study found that exercise increases neurogenesis, but the new neurons caused memories to be erased. When they eliminated the new neurons, the mice could remember again.

Researchers at Texas A&M decided to retest this finding but this time with rats instead of mice. Rats are thought to have more similar nervous systems to humans than mice. They found that the memory impairments were not present in this later study.

The team trained the animals to complete a task over four days, followed by several days of memory consolidation by repeating the task over and over again. After that, half of the rats were placed in cages with wheels for several weeks, while the other half was sedentary.

The animals that ran further over the course of time had more new neurons in the hippocampal region. Rats with a wheel, who at least ran some, had greater neurogenesis than the sedentary group. Neuron formation in the hippocampus doubled in the exercise group.

Neurogenesis positively affects mood, learning, and memory. This is why exercise is considered a natural antidepressant.

Researchers found that moderate runners and those who went further distances had no trouble recalling the task, the same as the sedentary group, despite more neurogenesis in the exercise group. These results show that there is no negative impact on memory by running.

The new study should reassure some of the runners who may have been worried about the older study. Running and exercise have many positive health benefits including elevating mood. It’s worth it to keep exercising, and your memory will stay in tact.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

More Posts - Website - 312-767-9383

TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus