How Leg Exercises Can Improve Brain Health and Help Deal With Stress

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Exercises including jumping and running have been reported as a way to improve physical health, but, now it seems it might also be a big help with brain health and in dealing with stress.


Researchers reported that signals from the leg muscles are essential for neurological health. Exercises for the legs can help to improve the functionality of the brain.

The findings were published in a study that was conducted on May 23, in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

“Our study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises, including patients who are bed-ridden, or even astronauts on extended travel, not only lose muscle mass, but their nervous system is adversely impacted and their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level,” according to study author Dr. Raffaella Adami.

The study concluded that weight-bearing exercises including jogging, weight training, and climbing produce signals which increase more healthy neural cells for the brain. Weight-bearing exercises work because it actually forces a person to fight against gravity.

Inversely, a reduction in weight-bearing exercises means that it will be challenging for the brain to make these new cells. Therefore, if the cells are not produced, an individual would have a more difficult time in handling stressful situations.

“It is not an accident that people are meant to be active: to run, walk, crouch to sit, and use the leg muscles to lift things,” according to Adami.

Earlier research reported that individuals who limit weight-bearing exercises experience a loss of bone mass.

How the Researchers Discover This?

Scientists used mice to study the importance of leg exercises. During a 4-week period, the researchers restricted mice from using their hind legs. Despite this restriction, the mice were able to continue with their normal daily routines.

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After the experiment, the researchers studied the individual cells, which is located in the subventricular zone of the brain. This is where new neural cells are made. The researchers reported an association between diminished exercise and the creation of these cells. Minus the exercise, neural stem cell production decreased by at least 70%. Other types of neurons that are located in the nervous system were also reduced.

The researchers concluded that metabolism changes when exercise was diminished.

Benefits of Leg Exercises:

The future implications of the study conducted could change how the medical community looks at exercising. First, this helps doctors to understand how multiple sclerosis and neurological diseases are linked to people who are unable to move their legs.

Most importantly, the study can be used in promoting the importance of exercising. In the past, exercising has been touted as a way to help with muscle fitness and cardiovascular health.

With this new study, leg exercises can also be introduced as a way to improve the central nervous system and brain functionality.


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