Friday, 24 February 2012

Exercise and your brain

We usually associate exercise with shape, weight, fat...but we forget to relate it to our brain health.

Our brain it evolved in response to us being always on the move. 
Humans, as any other species on Earth, are surviving by exchanging energy with the environment; and this is done by moving. One needs to move to find food (well, even if it means to go to supermarket lately instead of hunting); one needs to move and protect against predators, enemies or elements of nature (even if in Edinburgh this means mainly rain and strong wind); one needs to move to have sex and pass the genes - the main purpose of life. So there is no wonder that brain and movement (let's call it exercise) are so closely related.

The scientist found that neurons do have a support cells - astrocytes - that store glycogen, making it available when the level of glucose in bloostream gets low.
These glycogen stores act as 'insurance', and help in preserving the brain cells health.

Studies made on rats showed that after exercise - while the mini-glycogen stores in brain deplete - the food eaten goes 'straight' to the head, replenishing the store and even supercompensating, making these stores greater than before, with up to 60% in frontal cortex and hyppocampus. These are the regions of the brain responsible for thinking and memory, and these increased stores of glycogen help in sustaining better these functions. 
The levels of the stores dropped to normal after 24hrs. And I think this is a good reason to keep you moving the next day :-).


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