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Aerobic exercise and Human brain - Mystery decoded?

Updated on October 19, 2014
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Exercise To Turbocharge Human CPU

Exercise has got an array of health benefits starting from the cardiovascular system to the health of human lungs. Most of the health benefits are derived from aerobic exercise. Apart from the traditional strength training which provides power to the body, aerobic exercise provides endurance a property which helps human body to perform for longer duration of time without any remarkable tiredness.

All the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise is well known. What if the aerobic exercise can recharge the human supercomputer,nothing but Mr.Brain. Recent researches have proved that aerobic exercise can influence the structure and thinking process of human brain.

Aerobic Exercise and Human Brain

The presence of a specialized chemical in brain called as BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic factor) is an important mediator that amplifies the beneficial affects of aerobic exercise on human brain.

Significance of BDNF

BNDF regulates a variety of functions in human brain. Some of the important functions that were documented by researchers include

  1. Regulate energy balance of the body.
  2. Controls Feeding pattern.
  3. Controls Muscle energy release.
  4. Influences energy production patterns of human body .
  5. Growth and survival of brain cells called as neurons.

Gred Kempermann while comiling available research findings on BDNF noticed the important role that the chemical plays in eliminating depression of central nervous system and there by promoting new nerve growth. This can open the doors of research towards the role it plays in preventing depressive disorders of human brain

BDNF and Diseases

BDNF levels are commonly employed as an important marker in various hormonal and cognitive disorders. It has an important role to play in common global maladies like diabetes and obesity.

Aerobic Exercises v/s Resistance Exercise

Researches done all over the globe has further cemented the dominance of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise done continuously from 20 minutes to 1 hour have resulted in significantly elevated levels of BDNF.

BDNF and Exercise Induced Brain function enhancement

Aerobic exercise helps in establishing new nerve networks and enhance functions of existing ones there by making your thought process and decision making fast and accurate.

Diet and BDNF

There are certain food items that can be categorized as power foods for the brain. Among the list sprouted legumes and salmon are noteworthy candidates. Dr. Barnard the author of famous book "Power Foods for the Brain" observes that an unstructured diet can even impair the memory while as a diet comprising of power food elements can even reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Unfortunately we don't have much of human studies , the existing beliefs are assumptions based on experiments done in animal models. It is believed that high fat content in the diet results in decreased concentration of BDNF, reduce growth potential was also seen in central and peripheral nerve buds in animal models who were fed with high fat diet. On the other side caloric restrictions and low fat diet enhanced BDNF levels.

Regular Exercise Enhances BDNF

In her book "A Day In the Life Of The Brain" Ana Maria Rodriguez states. "The benefits of aerobic exercise takes place only when the exercise is regular, not one in a week thing. People should at least pump their heart 3 times a week".

Even though exercise is considered as beneficial for human health, habitual exercise wont provide any health benefits. A structured exercise program preferably five times/week is necessary for production of BDNF.

Exercise for better Grades

Pamela Nevils author of "Building the Brain for Reading Grades4-12" argues that role of Bdnf can be much more that what has been documented. She cements her argument with the help of some key research findings .

Pamela notices that the effect of exercise on brain function can be noticed among all age groups but its impact is more in developing brain. A structured exercise program works wonder among the school goers.

It was noticed that exercise through BDNF has activated key centers of brain involved in learning like hippo campus and frontal lobes. Exercise can help those slow or laborious learners to improve their grades to a greater extent. Existing research data speaks that exercise by a larger means influences students academic performance ,cognitive abilities, class room attention span. BDNF will continue to define new methods of learning through exercise.


Magic of BDNF


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