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Exercise is ideal medicine for the brain.

March 18, 2009

The Ideal Brain

New brain cells are created as we exercise. The wonderful Miracle
Gro-like substance called brain-derived neutrotrophic factor (BDNF) induces
growth of new neurons. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Science of
Exercise and the Brain, by John Ratey, MD, has generated significant interest
in new research supporting exercise as medicine for the brain.

Exercise affects cognitive ability just as it affects muscles, making the brain better and
smarter. These new BDNF-stimulated brain cells have increased capillary
circulation and higher levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin,
and norepinephrine. These findings about exercise have led researchers to
propose that exercise benefits memory. Paradoxically, exercise is remotely
chemically akin to the combined antidepressant effects of taking Prozac and
and the mental stimulation of taking Ritalin.

Physical activity could become instrumental in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, attention-deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), and other cognitive disorders. No matter what your age,
an active body is essential for an active mind and strong immune function
(Jensen, 1999). Exercise is medicine for the mind and body.

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