If you’re like most people these days, you probably know that regular exercise does your body good. You know that exercise can help you gain physical strength, lose weight, improve your cardiovascular endurance and help you obtain that “beach body” that you’ve been dreaming about in your sleep. You may also know about the various benefits of exercise for your health such as how it will help you to lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It certainly is all over the news these days on T.V., online and media advertisements. You rarely hear, however, about how the benefits of exercise extend far beyond  gaining strength and your heart health. More than just having that “beach body” you desire and being great for your heart, exercise is important for preserving and building your most important muscle – your brain!

Several human and animal studies strongly suggest that exercise induces neurogenesis (i.e., the production of new brain neurons and synaptic connections), enhances your longevity pathways (i.e., upregulates your body’s surtuins) stimulates autophagy (i.e., cellular cleansing and renewal),  protects your brain against strokes, and helps you to preserve your memories to avoid having those senior moments.1,2,3,4

Exercise promotes the production of brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), lactic acid , which fuels your muscles and brain (it increases norepinephrine),  and other nerve growth factors.  It  also helps to raise the circulating levels of proteins like FNDC5 as well as many other myokines, which act to preserve brain health, reduce systemic inflammation  and help to stimulate angio­gen­e­sis (i.e., the formation of new blood vessels that help to improve cerebral blood flow) so it will help to repair damaged brain cells.5  Many of these effects have been demonstrated in people with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis (I give much credit to my personal training & exercise regimen for my full mobility & good health).6,7

So if you’re concerned about preserving your brain health and want to avoid having those regrettable senior moments, it is important that you exercise regularly. Although the research suggests that more vigorous exercise like sprinting or H.I.I.T. training seems to lead to greater benefits, simply walking briskly 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes will help you to build a better brain.

To your health and success,

Dr. Sandoval

To learn more about how working with a psychologist and holistic health coach can help you to enhance your health and well being, call or email Dr. Sandoval to schedule a free consultation.

Cotman, CW & Berchtold, NC. “Exercise: a behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity.” TRENDS in Neurosciences. (2002). 25 (6), 295-301.
Hayes, K, Sprague, S, Guo, M, Davis, W, Friedman, A, Kumar, A, et al. “Forced, not voluntary, exercise effectively induces neuroprotection in stroke.” Acta Neuropathologica. (2008)115, 289–296.Katya Vargas-Ortiz, Victoriano Pérez-Vázquez, and Maciste H. Macías-Cervantes. “Exercise and Sirtuins: A Way to Mitochondrial Health in Skeletal Muscle” International  Journal  Molecular Science. 2019 Jun; 20(11): 2717.
Praag,H, Kempermann, G & Gage, FH. “Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus” Nature Neuroscience. (1999). 2, 266 – 270.
Huh, JY, Panagiotou, G, Mougios, V, Brinkoetter, M, Vamvini, MT, Schneider, BE, et al. “FNDC5 and irisin in humans: I. Predictors of circulating concentrations in serum and plasma and II. mRNA expression and circulating concentrations in response to weight loss and exercise.” Metabolism. (2012) 61 (12), 1725-38.
Ahlskog, JE. “Does vigorous exercise have a neuroprotective effect in Parkinson disease?” Neurology. (2011). 77 (3), 288 – 294.
Gold, SM, Schulz, KH, Hartmann, S, Mladek, M, Lang, UE, Hellweg, R, et al. Basal serum levels and reactivity of nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor to standardized acute exercise in multiple sclerosis and controls Journal of Neuroimmunology. . (2003). 138, (1–2), 99-105.

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