Genes Involved In Mitochondrial And Lysosomal Biogenesis
Since the 1950s, the decline of mitochondrial oxidative functions has been considered one of the main causes of cell aging . The respiratory complexes decrease with aging in many tissues, including the brainrelying mostly on the oxidative metabolism that is particularly sensitive to this decline . Moreover, mitochondrial DNA accumulates mutations with age, and this is a further reason for an aberrant functioning of mitochondria . Fission arrest and abnormal donut-shaped mitochondria have been noticed in the prefrontal cortex of aged animals. Mitochondrial alterations of different kinds have been also noticed in a variety of brain pathologies .
On the other hand, PA has been reported to have anti-aging effects and can have a positive effect on mitochondrial biogenesis due to the increase of BDNF levels . Recently, it has been reported that, in old mice, exercise can improve brain cortex mitochondrial function by selectively increasing the activity of complex I, and the levels of the mitochondrial dynamin-related protein 1 , a large GTPase that controls the final part of mitochondrial fission. This finding suggests that, in the brain of old mice, exercise improves mitochondrial function by inducing a shift in the mitochondrial fissionfusion balance toward fission, even in the absence of modifications in the levels of proteins that regulate metabolism or transport, such as BDNF, HSP60, or phosphorylated mTOR .
Young And Aged Rodents
In recent years many exercise and cognition studies have been carried out in adult rodents. This research strongly supports the benefit of exercise for brain function and has provided insight into the underlying cellular mechanisms. Both voluntary and forced exercise paradigms enhanced spatial memory in Morris water maze, Y-maze, T-maze and radial arm maze tests . Running also improved performance in hippocampus-dependent tasks that require limited movement, such as contextual fear conditioning, passive avoidance learning and novel object recognition . Moreover, nonhippocampal dependent, anxiety-related behavior, such as performance in the elevated plus maze , benefits from voluntary and forced exercise. Interestingly, it remains to be determined whether voluntary and forced exercise is equivalent. Differences have been reported in the extent of behavioral and cellular effects even when activity parameters in both paradigms are closely matched .
What Do We Know About Exercise And Brain Health
As of today we know: 1) adults 65 and older are the fastest growing demographic group, reaching 20% of the world population by 2030 and 2) maintaining a sharp mind is a top priority for them. The idea that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body dates back at least 2,000 years, and the benefits of exercise beyond physical health is not a new idea either. The New England Journal of Medicine said this in 1887:
Exercise sustains and improves bodily health by expanding the lungs, quickening the circulation, and promoting growth in muscles and bones. But we know that besides doing all these things, exercise may be made to contribute to brain growth and to the symmetrical development of the mental faculties.
The key question that remains unanswered 130 years since that NEJM article is: what type of exercise should we do, and how much of it is needed to specifically target brain health?
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Underlying Health Conditions That Increase Risk For Low Cerebral Blood Flow
Both physical and psychological health conditions can affect brain circulation.
Youre at increased risk for reduced blood flow to the brain if you have any of the following:
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Low Blood Pressure
Its well known that high blood pressure is dangerous and increases the risk of stroke, but low blood pressure is generally regarded as unproblematic.
However, this is untrue when blood pressure is low, blood literally cant make its way into the brain to feed your brain cells.
This inevitably affects brain function and increases your risk for neurodegenerative disorders.
Exercise Can Make Your Brain More Sensitive To Joy
When you exercise, you provide a low-dose jolt to the brains reward centersthe system of the brain that helps you anticipate pleasure, feel motivated, and maintain hope. Over time, regular exercise remodels the reward system, leading to higher circulating levels of dopamine and more available dopamine receptors. In this way, exercise can both relieve depression and expand your capacity for joy.
These changes can also repair the neurological havoc wreaked by substance abuse. Substance abuse lowers the level of dopamine in your brain and reduces the availability of dopamine receptors in the reward system. As result, people struggling with addiction can feel unmotivated, depressed, antisocial, and unable to enjoy ordinary pleasures. Exercise can reverse this.
In one randomized trial, adults in treatment for methamphetamine abuse participated in an hour of walking, jogging, and strength training three times a week. After eight weeks, their brains showed an increase in dopamine receptor availability in the reward system.
Are You Still Skeptical
It’s complicated. Maybe it’s even a little hard to believe. But, if you understand how exercise has its effect, maybe this will make more sense. Maybe you’ll even decide to start an exercise program that will help your body and your brain!
Here’s what happens in your brain with exercise:
Exercise Makes You Brave
Courage is another side effect of physical activity on the brain. At the very same time that a new exercise habit is enhancing the reward system, it also increases neural connections among areas of the brain that calm anxiety. Regular physical activity can also modify the default state of the nervous system so that it becomes more balanced and less prone to fight, flight, or fright.
The latest research even suggests that lactatethe metabolic by-product of exercise that is commonly, but erroneously, blamed for muscle sorenesshas positive effects on mental health. After lactate is released by muscles, it travels through the bloodstream to the brain, where it alters your neurochemistry in a way that can reduce anxiety and protect against depression.
Sometimes, the movement itself allows us to experience ourselves as brave, as the language we use to describe courage relies on metaphors of the body. We overcome obstacles, break through barriers, and walk through fire. We carry burdens, reach out for help, and lift one another up. This is how we as humans talk about bravery and resilience.
When we are faced with adversity or doubting our own strength, it can help to feel these actions in our bodies. The mind instinctively makes sense out of physical actions. Sometimes we need to climb an actual hill, pull ourselves up, or work together to shoulder a heavy load to know that these traits are a part of us.
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What Can Exercise Do For Your Brain
Heart-pumping, sweat-inducing,stress-relievingexercise promotes a wide range of well-known physical healthbenefits. Exercise makes us feel better, but endorphins shouldnt getall the cognitive credit. Exerciseand its effects on the brainplays acritical role in our mental health, too. Here arethree ways exercise supports your brain function.
Studies have found that even a single boutof acute exercise can havesignificant positive effects on our cognitive function.1 Researchsuggests that aerobic exercise helps create new brain cellsa process called neurogenesisandimproves the way the brain works. Neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampus andstriatum and is essential to learning and memory.2 Tough workouts,like high-intensity interval training or HIIT, can also boost decision-makingand higher thinking.3 Not to mention exercise has been proven overand over to boost our moods. Working out makes us happier, healthier, smarter,and more positive humans.
As we age, our brain cells die, and the brain itself shrinks, losing important functions in the process. Add to that, cardiovascular risk factors that disrupt endothelial cell function and poor sleep that impacts white matter integrity and the clearance of toxic proteins. Exercise, however, has been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing vascular risk factors and improve quality of sleepboth of which reduce the risk of cognitive decline.4
What Actually Happens To Your Brain When You Work Out
Exercise can provide a way to maintain brain function, according to a study in the Trends in Neuroscience journal. The research shows that your session on the track or the treadmill increases the molecules in your brain that aid learning and protect against cognitive decline. Psychologist and mental game coach Dr. Delice Coffey adds that “Exercise helps new brain cells to grow. It aids in brain plasticity by stimulating the development of new connections between the cells and cortical areas of the brain.”
The rise in these molecules, known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor , occurs in the hippocampus, which is the center for memory formation and learning. BDNF is a super-charged protein that helps keep brain circuitry intact. Those who have low levels of BDNF may suffer from Alzheimers, dementia, or depression.
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According to a study in the National Academy of Sciences journal the reason why people can start to suffer from impaired memory or dementia, when they get older, is because the hippocampus will naturally start to shrink as you age. However, a study by the University of British Columbia found that heart-pumping exercise increases the size of the hippocampus though you do need to be prepared to sweat it out as balance or resistance training exercises dont have the same effect.
May Reduce Brain Inflammation
Widespread chronic inflammation in the body contributes to the development of diseases like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It also affects the brain and can lead to compromised cognitive function, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.
But aerobic exercise is a powerful tool for suppressing inflammation in the body. A March 2017 study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that just 20 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise decreased markers of inflammation in 47 healthy volunteers.
And when researchers of a September 2015 study published in Journal of Inflammation looked at the effects of aerobic exercise on sleep-deprived rats, they found that regular aerobic exercise decreased pro-inflammatory responses in the rats’ hippocampal region the area of the brain responsible for memory, learning and emotion.
The researchers concluded that exercise has a neuroprotective effect that can counter hippocampal inflammation due to sleep deprivation. For those who experience sleep deprivation, that’s good news. However, it doesn’t mean it’s OK to get less sleep as long as you exercise. Sleep plays a major role in memory processing and brain plasticity, according to the authors of the study.
How Much Exercise Do You Need For Brain Health
A June 2018 review of research in Neurology Clinical Practice analyzed the results of 98 studies examining exercise and cognition in older adults. According to these findings, if you exercised for 30 minutes a day, you would notice statistically significant results in about three and a half months. You can cut that in half by exercising for 60 minutes a day.
“While more research is needed regarding dose, current recommendations are moderate intensity so exercising with some effort of both aerobic and resistance training. Specifically, 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise plus two to three sessions of resistance training,” Dr. Liu-Ambrose says.
She also says that in addition to meeting the exercise requirements, people should spend less time in sedentary behaviors, such as sitting and lying down. “There is emerging evidence that sedentary behavior may be associated with impaired cognitive function. Thus, in addition to getting your daily walks in and lifting some weight, take frequent breaks from sitting throughout the day,” Dr. Liu-Ambrose says.
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Increase Cerebral Blood Flow With Exercise
To improve cerebral blood flow, getting regular physical exercise should be your #1 priority.
Physical exercise may be the single most important thing you can do for the health and function of your brain.
The best exercise to get blood flowing is any exercise that you enjoy enough to actually do regularly.
Any exercise that gets your heart pumping is good, but exercise doesnt have to be overly strenuous.
Both walking and yoga are excellent options.
The best yoga poses for increasing circulation to the brain are inversion poses, those that place the head below the heart.
A simple and effective inversion that even beginners can do is the downward dog pose as seen in the image above.
If you dont practice yoga, consider inversion therapy.
It was originally popularized for back pain, but can also be used to increase circulation to the head.
Inversion therapy involves lying on a table or sitting in a chair designed to put the heart above the head.
Note:Dont try inversion therapy if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or any diseases of the eye.
Practical Ways For A Busy Life
So how can you find time to exercise, especially with all the additional time demands of the pandemic, and the limitations imposed by the pandemic such as limited access to the gyms?
Even if you do not feel anxious or depressed, still take the exercise pills. Use them for protecting your brain.
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Physical Exercise Is Not Only Important For Your Bodys Health
We all know exercising is good for the body. But did you know you might also get a brain boost when you don your sneakers and hit the gym? The benefits of physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, have positive effects on brain function on multiple fronts, ranging from the molecular to behavioral level. According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions.
Exercise affects the brain on multiple fronts. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the bodily release of a plethora of hormones, all of which participate in aiding and providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.
Exercise stimulates the brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in a wide array of important cortical areas of the brain. Recent research from UCLA demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brainmaking it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.
From a behavioral perspective, the same antidepressant-like effects associated with runners high found in humans is associated with a drop in stress hormones. A study from Stockholm showed that the antidepressant effect of running was also associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
What Can Exercise Do To Your Brain
Exercise has many benefits to the brain as well as overall body health. You can achieve these benefits in as little as 20 minutes a day. These changes can be attributed to chemical changes in the brain caused by physical activity. Just one session of exercise can improve the brains ability to retain physical skills by enhancing your brains muscle memory. Exercise can also improve long term memory too. One session can improve long term memory by 10%! You can reduce the risk of depression thru exercise as well. Physical activity also has shown to cause the brains white matter to become more fibrous and compact. This allows your brain to think faster and more efficient. Research has shown that activities like walking can increase creativity. Another benefit of exercise is good cardiovascular health, which also contributes to healthy brain functions. One would conclude that there is no reason to wait get up and get moving today!
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Other Activities To Increase Blood Flow To The Brain
There are many other activities that increase blood flow to the brain.
Some you may already do.
Others are so simple, you should consider giving them a try.
Music does a lot of great things for the brain it can make you smarter, happier, and more creative.
And one of the ways music delivers these benefits is by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Researchers can measure cerebral blood flow with functional magnetic resonance imaging .
They found that taking music lessons or even just listening to music increases blood flow to the brain, especially when its music you like.
Music that sounds joyful can increase blood flow to the brain by an impressive 26%.
Learning a foreign language is often cited as one of the best ways to boost mental performance and ward off brain aging.
The brains of multilingual speakers are bigger, better connected, and receive more blood flow than those who speak one language.
Neurofeedback is a mind-body technique that teaches you to control autonomic body functions by consciously altering brainwave patterns.
You can use it to train yourself to stop the stress response that directs blood flow away from the brain.
Dont let the mystical-sounding name put you off, this is one of the easiest forms of meditation to do.
Acupuncture is an ancient practice purported to work by balancing the flow of the bodys vital energy, known as chi or qi.