Run for your Life: New Studies Show Benefits of Exercise on the Brain and Body
Oct 18, 2009Research has implications for Parkinson’s disease, premenstrual syndrome, depression, and more
CHICAGO — Mounting evidence shows the benefits of exercise on both the brain and body, according to new research released today. The research focuses on the effects of physical activity on brain health and, more specifically, underscores the positive influence of regular physical activity on Parkinson’s disease, depression, premenstrual syndrome, and memory. These findings were presented at Neuroscience 2009, the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
Exercise benefits many aspects of life. However, the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that only 31 percent of all adults, and 22 percent of adults older than 65, engaged in regular physical activity in 2006, giving these new findings particular relevance.
Today’s new research shows that:
• Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise may reduce negative moods experienced by some women just before and during their menstrual period (Matthew Davidson, PhD, abstract 785.22, see attached summary).
• Exercising daily after undergoing whole-brain radiation prevented mice from experiencing declines in spatial memory skills and increases in depression-like behavior — two symptoms that typically develop after such treatment. This finding may have implications for people with malignant brain tumors for whom radiation is often the only treatment option (Christina L. Williams, PhD, abstract 581.9, see attached summary).
• Primates that ran on a treadmill five days a week were more resilient to a neurotoxin than were their sedentary counterparts. The active primates exhibited less damage to dopamine-containing brain cells, which are important in movement (Judy L. Cameron, PhD, abstract 430.7, see attached summary).
• In a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, exercise protected against the loss of cells that are important for maintaining function and movement, suggesting that exercise may be key in delaying disease progression (Yuen-Sum Lau, PhD, abstract 431.13, see attached summary).
“Continuously challenging the brain with physical and mental activity helps maintain its structure and function,” said press conference moderator Carl W. Cotman, PhD, Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Irvine, and an expert in the aging brain. “Most people do not realize that they have control over how their brain functions, but this research shows that by incorporating physical activity into their lifestyle, they benefit their bodies and brains.”
This research was supported by national funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private and philanthropic organizations.
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