Exercise boosts brainpower in rats

Gothenburg: Moderate exercise stimulates the brain, according to new research from Sweden.

The key to being quick-witted lies in working out little and often, but taking too much exercise can have the opposite effect.

Biologist Andrew Naylor who led the research at Gothenburg University said that they had looked at how exercise affected the brains of rats. Half were given access to treadmills. After nine days the rats taking exercise had five times as many new brain cells in the hippocampus, the area responsible for memory, than those who did not.

Another experiment showed who took lots of exercise were no better than those who took none.

Dr Naylor believes the results can be explained by the actions of hormones – ‘ feelgood’ endorphins and glucocorticoids, which are produced during stress.
The former are produced during exercise and stimulate the production of new brain cells. But if the body becomes stressed from over- exercise, their effects are cancelled out by the latter, which slows the production of new brain cells.