Can Exercise Strengthen Your Brain?

By Becky Striepe for

A new study out of the University of South Carolina suggests that it can!

The study looked at two sets of mice: one set exercised (on tiny, adorable treadmills!) for an hour each day, while the other set was sedentary. At the end of the experiment, the researchers had both sets of mice do one treadmill “run to exhaustion,” and then looked at the state of their brain cells.

What the scientists found was that the brain cells of the active mice had “newborn mitochondria.”

So, what does that mean?

Mitochondria are tiny organelles within a cell that provide it with energy, so more mitochondria implies better brain function. In fact, people with a mitochondria deficit in their brain tissue are more likely to develop neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times also spoke to exercise expert Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky who pointed to studies showing that “long-term runners have a lower risk of neurological disease.”

Of course, mouse brains are a little bit different from human brains, so there needs to be more study before anyone can draw a solid conclusion. In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to make time for exercise in your daily routine! It might just make you smarter, and it will definitely give you more energy and even help relieve stress in the meantime.

Source: New York Times

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