View Full Version : Effect of aerobic exercise in relation to the brain

07-04-18, 20:27
Exercise is sustenance for your heart and soul. Exercise is beneficial for mental health, physical fitness, maintaining a healthy weight, and sleep. Recent evidence suggests that we can add brain health to this list.

Exercise is good for neurons. Aerobic activity may help the brain stay healthier as we age.

In a 2018 study—recently published in the journal NeuroImage—investigators reviewed thousands of articles about aerobic exercise interventions and brain size. The interventions involved, for example, stationary cycling, walking, or treadmill running. They found 14 studies in adults—many of the other studies were conducted in mice or children—that compared the size of a key brain region before and after an aerobic exercise intervention.

The key brain region is called the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is a seahorse-shaped, deeply buried region of the brain that is essential for learning and remembering new information. The hippocampus tends to decrease in size with age and it is one of the earliest parts of the brain to shrink in Alzheimer’s disease. So this is a case of "bigger is better." A larger hippocampus is a sign of brain health.

The studies revealed that aerobic exercise had significant positive effects on the size of the hippocampus. Exercise appeared to prevent age-related decreases in hippocampal size, particularly in on the left, language-dominant side of the brain.

Spring has arrived! Walks in the park, anyone?


Effect of aerobic exercise on hippocampal volume in humans: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Hippocampal volume increase in response to aerobic exercise has been consistently observed in animal models. However, the evidence from human studies is equivocal. We undertook a systematic review to identify all controlled trials examining the effect of aerobic exercise on the hippocampal volumes in humans, and applied meta-analytic techniques to determine if aerobic exercise resulted in volumetric increases. We also sought to establish how volume changes differed in relation to unilateral measures of left/right hippocampal volume, and across the lifespan. A systematic search identified 4398 articles, of which 14 were eligible for inclusion in the primary analysis. A random-effects meta-analysis showed no significant effect of aerobic exercise on total hippocampal volume across the 737 participants. However, aerobic exercise had significant positive effects on left hippocampal volume in comparison to control conditions. Post-hoc analyses indicated effects were driven through exercise preventing the volumetric decreases which occur over time. These results provide meta-analytic evidence for exercise-induced volumetric retention in the left hippocampus. Aerobic exercise interventions may be useful for preventing age-related hippocampal deterioration and maintaining neuronal health.