Exercise: Good for Body and Brain

Molecular link discovered


Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Exercise has long been linked to increased production of a protein known as the “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” (BDNF). BDNF is essential for creating and maintaining healthy neurons and thereby delaying (or possibly preventing) neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Enter cellular biologist Bruce Spiegelman and his colleagues from Harvard Medical School and the University of Michigan Medical Center. The researchers suspected FNDC5, a protein induced during exercise, was responsible for increased levels of the “smart protein” BDNF.

This seemed to be the case for mice that ran a 5K every night for 30 days. But what would happen if FNDC5 was increased artificially (not during exercise)? According to Science, the researchers increased FNDC5 production in mouse brain cells in a dish. The result was more BDND. The molecular process in neurons in fact mirrored what happened when mice exercised.

The takeaway? If you’re looking to increase your brain power, start injecting FNDC5. Or just get moving. 

Filed to: