Why To Exercise Today: A Revitalized Brain

Well-exercised mice were found to have re-energized brain cells
Well-exercised mice were found to have re-energized brain cells

For eight weeks, a group of mice were placed on a treadmill to run, while their control-group colleagues lounged around. After two months, both sets of mice were made to run on the treadmill, and, not surprisingly, the runners far outpaced the slackers on endurance. But, the story says:

More interesting, though, was what was happening inside their brain cells. When the scientists examined tissue samples from different portions of the exercised animals’ brains, they found markers of upwelling mitochondrial development in all of the tissues. Some parts of their brains showed more activity than others, but in each of the samples, the brain cells held newborn mitochondria.

There was no comparable activity in brain cells from the sedentary mice.

This is the first report to show that, in mice at least, two months of exercise training “is sufficient stimulus to increase mitochondrial biogenesis,” Dr. Davis and his co-authors write in the study.

And even cooler is the kicker:

Best of all, the effort required to round your brain cells into shape is not daunting. A 30-minute jog, Dr. Davis says, is probably a good human equivalent of the workout that the mice completed.

This program aired on September 28, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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