The hippocampus is the brain area in charge of learning, long-term memory storage, and emotion regulation. Sustained aerobic activity, in particular (think running, swimming, and power walking), has been shown to boost brain cell proliferation in this area of the brain. Exercise also helps maintain healthy blood flow to the brain and reduces stress hormones that are known to inhibit neurogenesis.
You can also get new brain cells called neurons. Neurogenesis continues into adulthood in two regions of the brain: the dentate gyrus and the olfactory bulb. New neurons are produced throughout our lives in these areas. In fact, the number of neurons in your hippocampus increases by about 16% between your 20s and 90s! However, it's believed that this growth potential is only reached during certain periods of our life when we're not sick or injured. After age 30, the rate of neuron production slows down.
Finally, your brain cells can be regenerated if they are damaged. This process is called neural plasticity. When some of your neurons die due to disease or old age, they are replaced by new neurons from one of two sources: 1 from stem cells, which will be discussed later in this article, or 2 from other neurons within the brain tissue itself. This shows that your brain is always trying to repair itself by creating new cells.
However, everyone has the ability to produce new cells that can aid improve cognitive processes. New neurons (brain cells) grow in the hippocampus, the brain area responsible for acquiring information, retaining long-term memories, and regulating emotions, during this process known as neurogenesis. Studies have shown that our brains are able to regenerate new cells that function properly because these cells are not only present but also capable of changing depending on how we use them.
Neurogenesis is a complex process that involves several factors such as age, genetics, environment, and lifestyle. The brain's capacity for regeneration seems to decrease as we age due to less production of growth factors or increased production of inhibitory proteins. However, recent studies have shown that we can increase neurogenesis by using techniques such as learning tasks, exercise, and treatment with drugs such as antidepressants or mood enhancers like serotonin and dopamine.
Since brain cells cannot be replaced once they are dead, diseases or injuries that cause neuronal loss include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, HIV/AIDS, stroke, head injury, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease). In addition, some tumors, particularly brain tumors, will destroy brain cells if they aren't removed early in life. People who suffer from these conditions need help thinking up ways to stimulate brain cell generation to replace those lost due to damage or illness.
Regular endurance sports such as running, swimming, or bicycling, in addition to improving fitness, can help to protect existing brain cells. They can also stimulate the formation of new brain cells. Exercise is not just excellent for your body; it may also assist boost memory, concentrate, and sharpen your intellect.
Exercise can help prevent cognitive decline by promoting the growth of new blood vessels to reach growing nerve cells in our brains. This property is called "neurogenesis." Exercise can also help prevent Alzheimer's disease by reducing the amount of amyloid protein in the brain, which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
The more intellectual activity you engage in, the more this activity will benefit your brain. Therefore, students who play instruments, act, write stories, or draw pictures are exercising their brains while still studying or creating art. Sports such as tennis, golf, and skiing require mental agility as well as physical strength. Participants who engage in these activities will have improved minds as well as strong bodies.
It is important to note that if you stop exercising, your brain will return to its original state: inactive and wasting away. So keep doing what you're doing!
Exercise also increases brain plasticity by encouraging the formation of new connections between cells in a variety of crucial cortical regions of the brain. UCLA researchers discovered that exercise stimulates growth factors in the brain, making it simpler for the brain to form new neural connections. These new connections help explain why people who regularly exercise tend to have more neurons in areas of the brain that are important for reasoning, memory, and learning.
Studies have shown that regular exercisers tend to have larger amounts of nerve cell material in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for creating memories, than non-exercisers. Exercise appears to play a role in protecting against dementia such as Alzheimer's disease by maintaining the health of these nerve cells.
Running helps build strong brains. It is one of the best things you can do for your mind as well as your body!