Need a reason to get out of your bed?

The most intriguing topic came up in class this week: a baby will have more neurogenesis if the mother exercises while pregnant with the child (shoutout to Melissa). This got me thinking: if exercise can induce neurogenesis in an unborn baby, shouldn’t exercise also catalyze neurogenesis in the individual who is exercising? How much more motivated would you be to head to the gym after class – instead of your comfy, cozy bed – if you knew you were going to spark some neurogenesis?

Well, put your running shoes on, because it appears that exercise can produce neurogenesis – at least in active mice! The following link (http://neuro.cjb.net/cgi/reprint/25/38/8680) is an article that found that exercise increased hippocampal neurogenesis and learning in young mice, and that exercise reversed the effects of decreased neurogenesis in older mice by 50%. Additionally, spatial learning can be restored in older mice that voluntarily exercise.

What about people who exercise (aerobically) very regularly – are they producing far and away more neurons than a sedentary person, or is there a plateau at which neurogenesis catalyzed specifically by exercise begins to taper off or stop completely? Do we become ‘habituated’ to exercise, so that it takes longer or more strenuous workouts in order to produce the baseline neurogenesis? While I am interested in the answer to these questions, for now I’m going to grab my water and head to the Athletic Center. Welcome new neurons!

 

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4 thoughts on “Need a reason to get out of your bed?

  1. Awesome. Your follow-up questions are intriging, especially the one about requiring more strenuous exercise to continue the effect. The thing that I have always wondered about is the stress factor. If stress (both physical and psychological) decreases neurogenesis, then dose intense exercise that puts your body in a state of stress conteract the possible benifits of exercising? And a long the same lines as your previous questions, is there an optimal level of exersice to see neurogenesis benifits?

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  2. Oh, and of course I’d have to argue that going back and taking a nap might help increase your memory just as much as going to the gym, just in case you need a reason to stay in bed 🙂 Hm… I wonder if anything has been done on sleep and neurogenesis?

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  3. This is very interesting article, as it brings up a variety of questions. If exercise leads to neurogenesis, to what extent do confounding variables affect this finding? Also, it is possible to see which mice in the study experienced the most neurogenesis and if any of their pre-existing characteristics affected this. Another thought to consider is that, if your body diverts a large quantity of blood to the organs to repair them after the your workout, then can we assume that neurogenesis can take place effectively without as much oxygen flowing into the brain and what implications does this have on neurological research in general?

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  4. Just an interesting thing that I was reminded after reading this… Because exercise is a good source of neurogenesis, it has also been found that exercise before drinking alcohol diffuses the effects of alcohol and people that exercise need to consume more alcohol in order to feel intoxicated.

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