Exercise…augments adult neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells in an already mature brain…[R]esearchers at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland and other institutions gathered a large group of adult male rats. The researchers injected the rats with a substance that marks new brain cells and then set groups of them to an array of different workouts, with one group remaining sedentary to serve as controls.
They found very different levels of neurogenesis, depending on how each animal had exercised.
Those rats that had jogged on wheels showed robust levels of neurogenesis…The greater the distance that a runner had covered during the experiment, the more new cells its brain now contained.
[On the other hand,] there were far fewer new neurons in the brains of the animals that had completed high-intensity interval training…[a]nd the weight-training rats…showed no discernible augmentation of neurogenesis. Their hippocampal tissue looked just like that of the animals that had not exercised at all.
Obviously, rats are not people. But the implications of these findings are provocative. They suggest…that “sustained aerobic exercise might be most beneficial for brain health also in humans.”
[The study can be found here.]
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