Physical exercise is good for you. You already know that and if you are not exercising is just because you are too lazy. However, it is still quite strange that exercising is not only good for your body, but for your brain as well. How? An international team from The University of Queensland and the Dresden University of Technology might have identified the answer.
Exercising is a good way of improving your overall health. It strengthens your heart, it increases your bone density, it makes you happier. But how can physical exercise have a positive impact on your brain? Scientists chose mice to test their theory that it has something to do with blood. They compared blood samples from mice that were exercising to those who had no access to a running wheel. Researchers found a lot of changes in platelets, small cells in our blood, which could make them push neural stem cells to develop into neurons, as opposed to other cell types.
Neural stem cells can develop into a variety of different cells, including neurons. Obviously, neurons form our brain, which is why in this case exercising is good for your mind. Platelets are heavily involved in healing wounds – they cause blood to clot and skin cells to adhere together. However, as scientists have now discovered, physical exercising causes particular changes that make platelets release different molecules depending on the stimulus that has triggered them. Scientists say that this discovery opens a lot of new doors for research, especially concerning ageing.
We already knew that exercising is good for your body and mind. People of all age groups should be encouraged to exercise – it is never too late to start. However, understanding the mechanism how exercising affects brain has different implications. Growth of neurons decreases with age. Now scientists know that platelets are able to trigger more stem cells to become neurons. Dr Tara Walker, one of the scientists in the study, said: “It’s exciting because platelets are a lot more complex than originally thought, with the ability to release different molecules depending on the stimulus that has triggered them. Our next step is to investigate whether we can harness the positive effect of platelets to boost neuron development and improve learning and memory in both mice and humans”.
Human population is ageing rapidly. Getting old is associated with deterioration of brain function. Exercising is great, but understanding how it helps could eventually create new therapies that would help fighting age-associated brain damage.
Source: University of Queensland