The Importance of Brain Health
It’s not a news ﬂash that exercise is good for you, from maintaining a healthy weight to keeping your heart in shape, exercise provides
numerous beneﬁts. Here in Park City exercise is a religion; from our numerous Olympic athletes to some serious weekend warriors, outdoor enthusiasts and almost everyone in between engages in some form of activity.
DEVELOPING RESEARCH JUST GAVE US YET ANOTHER REASON TO LOVE EXERCISE: BRAIN HEALTH
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Scientists from the University of California Irvine Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory have been conducting groundbreaking research showing the incredible power of exercise as it relates to memory for both the healthy and cognitively impaired.
A recent study demonstrated how even a short burst of moderate exercise can enhance memory. UCI Researcher Dr. Sabrina Segal and neurobiologists Dr. Carl Cotman and Dr. Lawrence Cahill conducted a study involving a group of subjects aged 50 to 85 years old. They were ﬁrst shown a series of images, and then split up to stationary bikes or remain sedentary. When asked to recall the images an hour later, the results showed a striking diﬀerence between the two groups. The exercisers, both the healthy as well as the cognitively impaired participants, scored signiﬁcantly higher on their recall.
Segal reports that the improved memory may be due to an exercise- induced release of norepinephrine, a chemical messenger in the brain related to memory. They also found levels of salivary alpha amylase, a biomarker reﬂecting norepinephrine activity in the brain, signiﬁcantly higher after exercise. “The current ﬁndings oﬀer a natural and relatively safe alternative to pharmacological interventions for memory enhancement in healthy older individuals as well as those who suﬀer from cognitive deﬁcits,” said Segal.
GETTING A HEAD START
In a series of animal studies conducted by Dr. Cotman, he discovered that exercise may be responsible for raising the level of BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), a normal brain protein with the capability to stimulate cell growth. This fascinating research has wide ranging implications because it links exercise to helping your brain build new neurons and synapses, ultimately not just preventing brain decline, but enhancing its function and ability to learn new things.
University of California Irvine