Exercise is good for your physical health. We have known this for a long time. We also know that physical activity is good for the brain and alleviates depression and stress. What’s more, training improves both memory and learning capacities. On the other hand, exaggerated exercise, when the body doesn’t have a chance to recover, has a negative effect, with fewer brain cells as a result. This is shown in a dissertation from the Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University in Sweden. Moderation is best, in other words.
Biologist Andrew Naylor arrived at this by studying rats running in a treadmill. Rats that were allowed to run the treadmill for nine days acquired five times as many new stem cells in the part of the brain called the hippocampus compared with rats in a control group that did not run at all. Four weeks after their training, that is four weeks after the treadmill had been removed from the cage, about a third of the new cells were still there and had developed into functioning nerve cells.
The hippocampus is a part of the brain that is important for the regulation of stress reactions, but also for memory and learning. Andrew Naylor could confirm that these rats actually were better learners after their exercise by a running memory and learning test on them. The test had the rats swim in a round basin that had one place where they could get up out of the pool. The rats that had exercised learned more quickly than those who hadn’t where they should swim to get up out of the water.
Annika Söderpalm | alfa
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