There is a wide range of neurophysiological effects
of physical exercise and they involve numerous interrelated effects on brain
structure, cognition and brain function .Many clinical studies and research data done on animals and human
beings show and prove that exercise improves mood and cognition and it
also involves cardiovascular and metabolic benefits. Hippocampus the brain
region which has a central role in memory and learning is greatly affected by
exercise. Exercise-induced changes in the brain system, chemistry and
biological functions seem to be responsible for the beneficial effects of
exercise. Exercise also leads to improved learning and memory and improvements
in symptoms of and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
The human brain is a highly
dynamic, organ that undergoes both critical and chronic changes throughout its
whole lifespan. Many research paper and studies have described the
neuromolecular effects and changes resulting from exercise and how the
structural and functional brain modulations and exercise are astoundingly linked.
Physical activity and exercise have very different meanings though they are
used together many times. Physical activity is defined as body movements done
by skeletal muscles which results in energy consumption, while exercise is
defined as a planned, structured and repeated type of physical activity. Regular
exercise causes great benefits and a reduction in risk for many diseases such
as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and other diseases and
chronic conditions as well as cardiovascular and metabolic benefits .Research have
shown that exercise is not just effective on peripheral tissue but it also affects
the central nervous system (CNS). Regular exercise improves cognition, delays
and lightens the symptoms of many neurodegenerative diseases .Till now the
elemental mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effect of exercise are
still ambiguous an array of cellular and molecular systems crucial for
maintaining neuronal network and synaptic function such as neurotransmitters
and neurotrophic factors may be instrumental for positive effects of exercise
is now extensively recognized that routine regular exercise has a considerable
role in cardiovascular health. The heart rate elevates in anticipation before
the actual exercise even begins. This is commonly known as anticipatory
response. It is done through the discharge of neurotransmitters
such as epinephrine and nor epinephrine also commonly known as
adrenaline and noradrenaline.
The heart rate increases after the
earliest anticipatory reaction, in direct extent to exercise strength until and
unless a maximal heart rate is attained. Maximal heart rate is derived by
the formula 220-age which is only an estimation.
If the exercise intensity
remains constant the heart rate will align although it increases speedily with
the start of activity. This is commonly known as steady-state heart rate where
the active tissue’s demands can be adequately met by the cardiovascular system. The heart will increase in size and volume over a period of time with
habitual exercise. The walls of the ventricles will get massive and therefore
be able to make more powerful contractions resulting in a strong and healthy
The autonomic nervous system’s regulation is also linked to
central cardiovascular function, and bound exercise may contribute to the
inflection of these systems. In mice, forced exercise have shown changes of
central cardiovascular neural controls, resulting in modified resting
cardiovascular parameters such as mean arterial pressure, and heart rate, and
lowered sympathetic nervous system activity.
EFFECTS OF EXERCISE ON COGNITION AND MEMORY
The memory and
thinking is linked to exercise through both direct and indirect means. Reduced
insulin resistance, reduced inflammation, stimulation, the release of growth
factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the
growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival
of new brain cells are all the benefits of exercise. Neuroplasticity and cognition of the human brain are also
benefited by the physical exercise .The brain region hippocampus, has a unique role in learning
and memory making, with high capacity for neuroplasticity. There is an array of
studies and researches showing exercise greatly accelerates neuroplasticity in
New studies have shown that memory can benefit from physical exercise
as well. These behavioral conclusions are in accordance with neuroanatomical
observations stating that the volume of the human hippocampus, an important
structure for the storage of long-term memories, elevated in humans who had
exercised for one year.
Not only continuous effects of exercise
lasting for months up to years have been reported, but also a single session of
exercise has been shown to increase performance on a large array of cognitive tasks.
The number of studies and research on the effects of a single session of
exercise on memory is narrow and their results are incoherent so far with some
findings showing positive effects, no effects, or even adverse effects. The
conclusions seem to rely on the exercise intensity, the type of memory being
tested, and the duration of exercise.
The dynamic nature of memory proposes
two main memory stages: a label state in which memories are more inclined to
enhancements or improvements and a stable state in which they are rather
unresponsive to any treatment. Shortly after learning and the reactivation of memory
traces the transient label state is seen. Thus, memory might get affected by physical
exercise when done during early phases of memory consolidation.
EFFECTS OF EXERCISE ON NEURODEGERATIVE DISEASES
diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD) display
properties of gradual loss of neurons as the exercise accelerates neurogenesis
and enhance cognition in both young and old individuals; it is fair to think
that it may have protective effect against neurodegenerative diseases.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading
neurodegenerative disease. “It is a progressive neurological disorder of broad
etiology with a strong genetic influence, and with varied presentation
according to age, sex and life style factors- by Selma C?rr?k and Gulay Hacioglu”. The aged population is
affected primarily, above the age of 65, although there are instances of early
onset. Typically, an AD patient loses normal cognitive function over time,
including emotion, learning and memory processing skills, ultimately leading to
a term known as “dementia.
“PD (a movement disorder) is the second
most common neurodegenerative disorder worldwide. It affects approximately 1%
of the aged population. The symptoms include resting tremor, rigidity, and
posture instability and accompanying dementia or autonomic dysfunction- by Selma C?rr?k and Gulay Hacioglu” .These symptoms are clinically
defined as “parkinsonism”
In the recent trials of AD patients
which were randomly controlled it has been observed that exercise could help
slow and prevent disease progression both directly and indirectly .The main
pathological driver amyloid-beta peptide in AD patients can get cleared with
exercise. Induced nerve growth factor production, the degeneration of
cholinergic neurons could be prevented through exercise and perhaps attain
cognitive decline. The basal metabolism naturally falls with aging, which may
also help to reverse some of the risk factors for AD with exercise.
In patients suffering from PD, exercise
could change the flow of the disease. Postural stability, balance, and tremor
can be improved with exercise. Musculoskeletal deficiencies can also be
overcome with the help of exercise. Depression
or negative mood which is often associated with AD and PD can be alleviated
with exercise. Maintenance of cerebral blood flow in the retirees which
prevents cognitive decline is also the positive effect of exercise. With
exercise a growth hormone is induced which helps in neuroregeneration which is
done by increasing the number of neural stem cells.
Increased amount and maturation of
newborn cells, changes in synaptic plasticity and spine density and developed
angiogenesis in the hippocampus result in the helpful effects and changes in
the human body done by exercise. Modifications in hippocampus system and
chemistry may have beneficial effects of exercise, such as improved learning
and memory, lowered cognitive decline related to ageing and delay/reduction in
symptoms of neurodegenerative disease.
The cellular mechanism that is responsible
for the effects and changes done by
exercise on the human brain is still ambiguous and needs further
research but it is clear that exercise can be used to maintain and improve cognitive
process throughout the human life. Exercise is the most effective, cheap and
low-tech method for successful ageing, and therefore, it has a great potential
to prevent or reduce age-related cognitive decline. Neurologically to obtain
the maximum benefit from exercise, regular, mild-moderate intensity and
duration of the aerobic or resistance exercise is appropriate and advised,
while it is advised to avoid exhaustive type of exercise.
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