Friday, October 25, 2013

"How Exercise Makes Your Brain Grow"

According to a terrific article by David DiSalvo in Fortune magazine entitled "How Exercise Makes your Brain Grow", scientists have learned how endurance exercise helps build new brain cells. If you’re the victim of a brain tumor, traumatic brain injury or just feel you drew a short straw in the gene pool, understanding “how” is important.

Why? Because there’s big news in the “how” area as DiSalvo reports that “Research into ‘neurogenesis’—the ability of certain brain areas to grow new brain cells—has recently taken an exciting turn. Not only has research discovered that we can foster new brain cell growth through exercise, but it may eventually be possible to “bottle” that benefit in prescription medication.”

Couch potatoes of the world are jumping in joy! (Or, since they’re couch potatoes, maybe they’re just smiling broadly from the safety of their sofa).

At this point in reading the article I was somewhat incredulous, how could this be? Well, according to DiSalvo’s article “…researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have also discovered that it may be possible to capture these benefits in a pill.  The same protein that stimulates brain growth via exercise could potentially be bottled and given to patients experiencing cognitive decline, including those in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

If you’re a happy being a couch potatoes, you may be asking yourself “Why is this exciting?” Here’s one expert’s conclusion:  “What is exciting is that a natural substance can be given in the bloodstream that can mimic some of the effects of endurance exercise on the brain,” said Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, of Dana-Farber and HMS and co-senior author of the research report with Michael E. Greenberg, PhD, chair of neurobiology at HMS.”

I found this so exciting, so provocative and so interesting I might even start jogging (at least until I can buy the pills at Walgreens).

And here’s a link to the study involving mice:

Image credit: <a href=''>iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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