The future of workouts: In a bottle


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Studies have linked aerobic exercise to a “young” brain, one that resists degeneration as we age, even slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Now, research by a consortium of scientists from ten US medical institutions have found that upping the brain’s supply of certain neurochemicals may produce the same result as pounding out the miles on a treadmill.

Studies have linked exercise to “neurogenesis”, the creation of new brains cells, especially in the hippocampus, the brain’s center of learning and memory. Using mice afflicted with an Alzheimer’s-like condition, researchers gave them a drug that would stimulate the creation of new brain cells. The drug, combined with exercise, helped improve the mice’s mental functions.

A second study repeated the treatment but, instead of exercise, added something called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor”, a protein known to stimulate nerve growth. With the two compounds together, mice with dementia improved as much as mice receiving the one drug while doing time on a running wheel.


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