Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Which exercises grow new brain cells?….

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 8-16-2016

A.  Some time ago, several studies found that walking even for just a few times a week helped grow new brain cells by releasing the nerve and brain cell growth hormone, BDNF.

People who did this kept their brain size and most importantly the part they kept that completely sedentary people did NOT keep as they got older was the white matter that wires the parts of the brain together -- AND most importantly wires the hippocampus that allows us to access our memories when needed to our thinking brain.

This means that even such mild regular exercises as moderate speed walking or doing a comparable exercise at your desk on a recumbent bike or similar exerciser enables you to avoid memory problems. 

And, other research found keeping this white matter connection to your hippocampus also enables you to think on your feet when needed by fast access of relevant memories.

B.  A recent study on rats found that running on an exercise wheel grew new nerves and brain cells well.

For rats, running at whatever speed they want on an exercise wheel is comparable to walks in people. 

What kind of exercise boosts new brain cells best?

This study did verify the first part:


In this experiment on rats, self-regulated running on an exercise wheel was dramatically effective at causing new brain cell growth -- and in the hippocampus too!

So, the way people used to live where they walked everyplace and often wanted or needed to do so, does this well!

In this experiment, the interval cardio and strength training were better than being sedentary but not by much.

But what this experiment badly messed up is that the interval cardio and strength training were uncomfortable, forced exercises imposed from outside.

(Imagine being forced to run fast by someone with a cattle prod or forced to climb a rope with uncomfortable leg irons on your ankles by someone with a cattle prod!)

Since such stress and reduction in perceived control has harmful neurological effects, that part of the experiment is worthless at best and completely wrong at worst.

Setting up an experiment where instead the rats were rewarded with food or petting or both for running progressively faster for short times or lifting a progressively heavier lid might have gotten the opposite result. In fact, I’d be willing to bet 10 to 1 that would be the case!

So the take away for people is.

DO add short fast walks or longer walks if you have time and self paced exercise at your desk in a way you can do often and not be distracted from your work.

ANY of those three will work!

My strong suspicion is that so will self generated progressive strength training or high intensity short duration cardio. 

BUT in addition to that, both kinds of vigorous exercise help increase blood flow to the brain AND keep the arteries cleaner to avoid later blood flow reductions!

(A study found that a group who did a routine that combined light strength training and short fast cardio several mornings a week for several years found that their blood readings of HDL etc showing reductions in small particle LDL improved in the first year.  AND every year the group did this their readings improved!

So between keeping their blood vessels clean of extra plaque and the increase circulation and breathing during the exercises, this study documented such exercises do help increase blood flow to the brain.)

Lastly, strength training has been shown directly to boost mental executive skills!  And, my guess is that self-managed higher intensity, short duration cardio does too.

So, the best way to grow new brain cells is likely to do some of all three kinds of exercises each week.

Secondly, if you are interested in growing even more brain cells and improving your circulation more with exercise, research also shows that taking omega 3 supplements, eating wild caught fish high in omega 3 oils, and particularly taking DHA supplements causes exercise to release even more BDNF.  Doing both regular exercise AND doing this is quite effective in releasing BDNF.

AND, taking that step plus stopping eating ANY wheat and all or most grain, boosts blood flow to the brain by increasing HDL, lowering triglycerides, and thus reducing the small particle LDL that causes heart disease.

Dr William Davis found that this step dramatically increased HDL in people who were low and never able to do so before.

Lastly, aging tends to reduce brain function; and a dramatic study at Stanford found that regular vigorous exercise slows aging, reduces heart disease and mental decline AND enables people to live longer and do so in good health. 

We even know why this occurs besides the boost in circulation and new brain cells:

Dr Al Sears who teaches a kind of progressive cardio that gradually becomes quit vigorous for short periods that he calls PACE, sent an email which also said this!:

"In a groundbreaking study, researchers in London found that people who exercised vigorously for relatively short periods of time per day had telomeres that looked a full 9 years younger than those who did no exercise or too much exercise.4

A separate study showed that short bursts of vigorous exercise resulted in mitochondrial biogenesis. 5 That's another way of saying that it helps your body birth brand-new power-boosting mitochondria.

And yet another study revealed that brief periods of intense exercise that challenged the lungs increased VO2 max levels.6 VO2 max measures how fast you can get oxygen into your blood. It's a good indicator of lungpower and the youth of your lungs. The more oxygen you can get to your body, the younger your body acts."

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