A recent study that found a connection between physical activity and the size of the brain regions in charge of memory and learning may have added to the long list of health advantages associated with regular exercise.
Better yet, the researchers who conducted the study claim that prolonged or extremely intense exercise cannot enhance cognitive function. Participants in the team included scientists from Washington University in St. Louis and the Pacific Neuroscience Institute Brain Health Center (PBHC) at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of 10,125 participants, the study discovered that those who reported regularly participating in physical activities such as sports, walking, or running had larger brain volumes in particular regions of their brains.
The ‘decision making’ frontal lobe and the hippocampus, a region crucial to memory handling and storage, were among those regions. The entire volume of each brain’s connective white matter, or gray matter, which aids in information processing, was also measured in the study.
According to PBHC psychiatrist and neuroscientist David Merrill, “we found that even moderate levels of physical activity, such as taking fewer than 4,000 steps a day, can have a positive effect on brain health.”
“This is much less than the often-suggested 10,000 steps, making it a more achievable goal for many people.”
Although increased brain volume doesn’t always translate into better functionality, it’s frequently thought to be a reliable indicator of changes in cognitive capacities.
Although the specifics of how these brain enhancements might appear in individuals who exercise frequently are not discussed in this study, memory and learning may very well be improved because we know the functions of these brain regions.
Regular exercise improves blood flow throughout the body, including to the brain, and raises levels of specific proteins that support the health of neurons, among other reasons why regular activity may enhance neurological functions.
Naturally, as we age, the chance of developing neurodegenerative diseases rises, making this even more crucial. Larger brain volumes are thought to help slow down the cognitive decline that is associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s, for example.
Higher levels of activity have also been linked to a lower risk of dementia in earlier research. There appears to be some sort of relationship here, even though the evidence is insufficient to establish direct cause and effect.
“Our research supports earlier studies that show being physically active is good for your brain,”