Up until recently, scientists thought a 20-year-old's brain was fixed and would never grow again. From then on, it went through a slow, inevitable decay, losing powers of decision making, memory, and multitasking, until an 80-year-old was left with a shadow of the original. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
People have been slow to grasp that exercise can affect cognition, just as it affects the heart and muscles. Scientists are proving just that by using biochemistry, and brain scanning tools. When our muscles contract certain chemicals are released including a compound called IGF-1. IGF-1 then sends signals to elevate other compounds that affect the brain including one called “brain derived neurotrophic factor” or BDNF. This compound builds up its levels with exercise and allows the brains nerve cells to branch out and communicate with each other. The higher the levels of BDNF and the brain appears to have a higher capacity for learning. If the brain’s capacity of BDNF is low it seems to shut itself off to new information says UCLA neuroscientist Fernando Gomez Pinilla.
In a recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that neurogenesis in parts of the brain can be induced easily with exercise. The hippocampus, an area that controls learning and memory is one of the first areas of the brain to erode responds well to BDNF’s effects. Arthur Kramer, a psychologist from the University of Illinois” says “it’s not just a matter of slowing down the aging process but reversing it”. One of Alzheimer’s first targets is the hippocampus and the population that does exercise on a regular basis appears to have a lower ratio of developing the disease. Pinilla says Americans lazy lifestyles may be contributing to their high rates of the disease.
There are numerous biological changes that occur within the brain resulting from exercise. The blood and energy supply improves, active people have less inflammation in the brain, Serotonin, Dopamine, and epinephrine are all elevated after a bout of activity.
Like maintaining Weight mental fitness has to be maintained as well.