Exercise Also Stimulates the Growth of New Brain Cells
You’ve probably already heard that exercise is also good for your brain function. In fact, it increases production of brand new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis. More brain cells can lead to improved thinking and processing of information.
The question was largely: how?
Part of the answer involves the adult stem cells, which your brain is full of.
Adult stem cells have the capacity to divide into new stem cells or into new neurons as needed, but certain factors can slow them down such as bone-morphogenetic protein also known as simply BMP.
“The more active BMP and its various signals are in your brain, the more inactive your stem cells become and the less neurogenesis you undergo,” the New York Times explains. “Your brain grows slower, less nimble, older.”
Exercise reduces the impact of BMP so that your adult stem cells can continue performing their vital functions of keeping your brain agile.
Remarkably, mice with access to running wheels reduced the BMP in their brains by HALF in just one week. In addition, these mice also showed “a notable increase in Noggin, a beautifully named brain protein that acts as a BMP antagonist,” the New York Times writes.
It appears that the less BMP activity you have in your brain, the more beneficial Noggin is produced as well.
“If ever exercise enthusiasts wanted a rationale for what they’re doing, this should be it. Exercise, through a complex interplay with Noggin and BMP, helps to ensure that neuronal stem cells stay lively and new brain cells are born.”
I add this in here to emphasize, again, that exercise is not just about losing weight and bulking up. It’s about far more than just looking good – it can also help your brain function, and that’s surely something we all want to hold on to!
This is also important to remember when it comes to school-age children, and as I discussed in a recent article, physical education programs can have a dramatic impact on school performance. DR Mercola