How does Exercise improves Brain Function?

exercise improves brain function?

My body has always liked moving around–I spent my childhood upside down–yet exercise can easily get pushed down my list of priorities. So, even as I preach exercise to my patients, especially dance, I still need that push myself. Thus, when I see data like the following, then exercise moves UP my list of priorities. Use it or lose it!  Meaning–Exercise or lose your mind…

As reported by The New York Times, new evidence shows that physical exercise helps your brain to not only resist shrinkage, but increase its cognitive abilities.…/how-exercise-could-lead-to-a-better-brain.html iA study of mice illustrated the direct effect of physical exercise on the brainii.  Animals that exercised, whether or not they had any other enrichments in their cages, had healthier brains and performed significantly better on cognitive tests than the other mice.


Exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections, and protecting them from damage. During exercise, nerve cells release proteins known as brain derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) which activate brain stem cells to convert into new neurons. Exercise seems to prevent brain decay as much as it prevents and reverses age-related muscle decay.

Exercise also lowers the activity of bone-morphogenetic protein or BMP, a chemical which slows the production of new brain cells, while simultaneously increasing Noggin, a brain protein that acts as a BMP antagonist. The more Noggin present in your brain, the less BMP activity there is, and the more stem cell divisions and neurogenesis (production of new brain cells) takes place. So Noggin is good for your noggin… BMP (or Bump) is Baaad…

As you see in this photo of my grand nephews, exercise benefits us at any age… On the other hand, sugar suppresses BDNF neurotrophic factors, which helps explain why a low-sugar diet in combination with regular exercise is so effective for protecting memory and staving off depression.  So even if those carbs give you a brief lift in spirits, know that they will eventually leave you lower than before. Luckily, exercise and dance stimulate those feel-good opiates in the body such as the neuro-modulators Endorphins, and the neuro-transmitters Dopamine and Seratonin.  That means exercise will give us more of a long term boost in spirits than a piece of cake will, while providing many other benefits.

So bend those knees and rotate those hips! Jump and kick! For joy!

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