It’s well known that regular exercise can change our brains for the better, by building new cells and pathways in a process called neurogenesis. Well, it turns out that lack of exercise might also reshape the brain, but for the worse.
That’s the conclusion of a study published in The Journal of Comparative Neurology. Researchers “found that being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in ways that significantly affect not just the brain but the heart as well,” The New York Times reported in a story about the study. “The findings may help to explain, in part, why a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for us.”
Though these experiments were conducted with rats, the scientists believe the findings are relevant to humans.
Their key observation: In the brains of rats that were sedentary for just twelve weeks, the neurons “changed in ways that made them likely to overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system, potentially increasing blood pressure and contributing to the development of heart disease.”
Rats that were physically active for the same period exhibited none of these negative brain changes.
Bottom line: Get moving!
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About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.