EXERCISE CAN LITERALLY REVERSE BRAIN AGEING!! Thousands of years ago, our ancestors thrived as hunter-gatherers, walking on average 12 miles per day in search of…
EXERCISE CAN LITERALLY REVERSE BRAIN AGEING!!
Thousands of years ago, our ancestors thrived as hunter-gatherers, walking on average 12 miles per day in search of food (I would walk 12 miles to Waitrose if I had to 😬).
So we are genetically programmed to hike for miles each day!
The human genome hasn't changed much in that time, but our behaviour has.
What happens when your behaviours go against what you were built for?
Maladapted genes and abnormal gene expression.
How is this manifested?
Multiple diseases and adaptations that make us weaker than we are built to be!
Lack of exercise actually changes our genetic make up!
But does exercise really combat these things, and does it really provide any other benefits aside from cardio fitness?
Many years ago, neuroscientists held a common belief that we're all born with as many neurons (brain cells) as we're gonna get, and there's nothing we can do to change that.
Luckily for us (especially me who killed a lot of mine in the 90/00's ), a scientist called Josef Altman disproved that in the 1960's, by showing that neurogenesis (creation of new brain cells), happens in adults, in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
BONUS FUN FACT - the hippocampus is actually two little structures in your brain, which sit side by side and look a bit like seahorses which is why it's called the hippocampus because it's from the Greek words for horse and sea monster
The key component in neurogenesis is the release of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
You may have heard me refer to this before as 'brain manure'.
It does things like:
How do we get us some more brain manure?
We get sweaty!
When we exercise we produce BDNF & stimulate a variety of processes that enhance our health, longevity and immune system functions in the brain and promote neuroplasticity (important for those of you trying to make behavioural changes and retrain your brain).
This is important because these are all things that decline as we age - but exercise can not only stop that decline, but actually reverse it.
Yep, that's right - EXERCISE CAN LITERALLY REVERSE BRAIN AGEING!! Pass me my trainers right now!!
How else does exercise make the brain healthy?
So how much exercise do you have to do to get these benefits?
The answer is the amount you can do CONSISTENTLY - these long term benefits can only be achieved by being active EVERY DAY, as the effects are cumulative.
Start small, build slowly.
There are loads of studies to show various benefits of exercise, and to illustrate that ANY level of exercise brings a myriad of benefits:
And a final note - you can increase the production of BDNF by feeling socially connected to others - so for a double whammy of brain Miracle-Gro, why not do the following?
How are you growing your brain cells today??
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