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In the News: Exercise for Brain Power

Sure, exercise is great for your heart, lungs, and physique- but did you know that exercise has also been shown to improve brain function? Recent studies such as this one published by Dr. Fred Gage and colleagues at the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute in San Diego report findings that may explain some of the brain benefits of exercise.

In simple terms, Dr. Gage et al studied bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) found in body tissues. In the brain, these proteins help to control stem cell division that lead to the creation of new neurons (neurogenesis). The more BMP found in your brain, the more inactive your stem cells will be. This may result in a slower, more sluggish brain. But good news! Dr. Jack Kessler, the chairman of neurology at Northwestern, found through studies done with mice that those with access to running wheels had roughly 50% less BMP-related brain activity. Scientists sited that those with reduced levels of BMP, "exhibit remarkable gains in hippocampal cognitive performance and neurogenesis, mirroring the effects of exercise". So what does this all mean? In short, exercise works to help stem cells generate and allow neurons to grow. In shorter, more exercise = more brain power. For a more in depth description, click here.