Friday, September 23, 2011

A little Exercise May Combat Brain Fatigue

You know that feeling of information overload? When you're at the point that you don't think you can absorb any more information and you're a little spaced out? It happens to us all, especially when we're learning lots of new information at a rapid pace, for example when starting a new job, undergoing training or orientation programs and especially when studying for exams! Sometimes you feel like all that will fix you is a nap, but there's something else that's been shown to clear your head and help you work longer before burning out, along with many other amazing health benefits. Yep - you got it, it's your old friend exercise.

According to researchers from the University of South Carolina, regular exercise may increase the number of 'cell powerhouses' called mitochondria in our brain cells that can help boost brain power! We already know that this happens in our muscle cells when we exercise, but it turns out that the effect is not limited there. In fact, the researchers believe that the increased numbers of mitochondria in our brain cells due to exercise may be responsible for the ability of exercise to battle depression and fatigue and also improve memory. They believe that regular exercise should be part of the prescription for psychiatric, mental, genetic and neurodegenerative disorders.

Despite the fact that the study was carried out on mice, we know that exercise boosts mitochondrial numbers in human muscle cells from previous research. In addition, recent research has shown that regular exercise in elderly adults (70 yrs old on average) makes them less likely to develop brain lesions similar to strokes but on a smaller scale. Regardless of whether or not these effects could also be seen in humans, there are so many health benefits to exercising (decreased blood pressure, weight loss, improved muscle mass and body composition, improved bone mineral density, and a decreased risk of many chronic diseases like diabetes, and cancer) that there's no reason not to, if one is in reasonable health!

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