We all know that exercise is good for your health, but now new research is showing that it can make you smarter too.
Research scientists have shown that a short burst of exercise directly boosts activity in parts of the brain associated with learning and memory. The equivalent of 4000 steps or a casual game of social basketball was able to increase connections between neurons in the hippocampus. This discovery was made by analysing genes that increased in single-neuron activity during exercise, in particular, the Mtss1L Gene. Researchers discovered that when this gene is activated by short bursts of exercise, it promotes neuron growth, in effect, showing that an acute burst of exercise is enough to prime the brain for learning.
“Exercise is cheap, and you don’t necessarily need a fancy gym membership or have to run 10 miles a day,” said co-senior author Gary Westbrook, M.D., senior scientist at the OHSU Vollum Institute and Dixon Professor of Neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine.
- Christina Chatzi, Gina Zhang, Wiiliam D Hendricks, Yang Chen, Eric Schnell, Richard H Goodman, Gary L Westbrook. Exercise-induced enhancement of synaptic function triggered by the inverse BAR protein, Mtss1L. eLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.45920