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Muscles working boost brainpower
A recent study by Â the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging hasÂ proven thatÂ exercise can boostÂ brain power.
The researchers were especially interested in the possibility that the action starts outside the brain â and specifically in the muscles. âWe wondered whether peripheral triggers might be activating the cellular and molecular cascades in the brain that led to improvements in cognition,â says Henriette van Praag, the investigator at the National Institute on Aging who led the study.
Muscles are, of course, greatly influenced by exercise. Muscle cells respond to exercise by pumping out a variety of substances that result in larger, stronger muscles. Some of those compounds might be entering the bloodstream and traveling to the brain, Dr. van Praag says.
The implication, she continues, is that exercise may need to be aerobic if itâs going to substantially affect the brain. âYou probably need to increase blood flow, which mostly occurs during endurance training,â she says. Also, in animal studies, AMPK production has been found to increase principally after running. Of course, âitâs very hard for us to study weight lifting in mice,â Dr. van Praag says, so itâs possible that other types of exercise might improve AMPK production and cognition too, she says.