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Can regular exercise protect the brain?
Most people know that adequate exercise helps reduce stress. Exercise not only affects coping with stress, it also protects the brain and memory from the negative effects of stress. Researchers have now found that regular jogging alleviates the negative effects of chronic stress on the hippocampus.
The researchers at Brigham Young University found that jogging can help protect memory. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Neurobiology of Learning and Memory".
How do I protect my brain from stress?
Exercise is an easy and inexpensive way to remove the negative effects of chronic stress on memory, explains study author Professor Jeff Edwards of Brigham Young University.
What is long-term potentiation?
When people learn something, the synapses involved in the learning process increase their transmission strength. Optimal memory formation takes place within the hippocampus if the synapses (connections between neurons) are strengthened over time. This process of synaptic reinforcement is also known as long-term potentiation (LTP). Chronic or long-term stress weakens the synapses, which reduces long-term potentiation and ultimately negatively affects memory. However, the LTP level does not decrease when exercise is accompanied by stress, the scientists say.
Researchers carried out experiments on mice
For their study, the researchers carried out experiments with mice. A group of these animals used impellers over a period of four weeks. On average, the animals covered the equivalent of five kilometers a day on these wheels, the authors explain. The other group remained mostly settled. Half of each group was then exposed to stressful situations, such as walking on a raised platform or swimming in cold water. One hour after the stress induction, the researchers carried out electrophysiological experiments on the brains of the animals to measure the long-term potentiation.
Effects of training on mice
When the mice had trained on the impeller, the long-term exposure was significantly increased compared to the group with non-moving mice. Memory tests in a labyrinth also showed that the trained mice achieved better results and they also made fewer mistakes regarding their memory. The results show that exercise is a viable method to protect learning and memory mechanisms from the negative cognitive effects of chronic stress on the brain, the experts explain.
Avoid stress and exercise enough
It would be ideal for learning and improving the memory if those affected are not exposed to stress and also exercise enough, says Professor Edwards. “Of course, we can't always control stress in our lives, but we can control how much we exercise. It is encouraging to know that by going outside and starting to run, we can combat the negative effects of stress on our brains, ”added the doctor in a press release from Brigham Young University.
20 minutes of cardiovascular exercises a day protect the brain
Even though we can never completely remove stress from our lives, it's nice to know that we can simply do 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercises a day to prevent brain overload and offset negative effects of lack of exercise, the researchers conclude. (as)