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Running Reverses Brain Aging: Study

Update Date: Nov 29, 2012 07:15 AM EST

Put on those running shoes and hit the road early in the morning, if not for a healthy body, then at least for a healthy brain.

A new University of Queensland study suggests that physical exercise is just as important as cognitive exercise when it comes to maintaining a healthy brain, reports Medical Xpress.

According to the report, scientists from the Bartlett laboratory at UQ's Queensland Brain Institute have reportedly discovered the mechanism by which exercise increases the number of stem cells which actively generate new nerve cells in the brain and also reverse the normal aging of the brain, found in all animals.

"We have found that Growth Hormone (GH) originally discovered as a potent stimulator of animal growth is increased in the brain of running animals and this stimulates the activation of new neural stem cells," says QBI scientist Dr. Daniel Blackmore.

The researchers conducted the experiment on older mice, which show the same cognitive decline as humans.

"In this model of ageing we found that the number of active neural stem cells dramatically declines with age, but exercise dramatically reversed this, increasing stem cell numbers," professor Perry Bartlett, the Director of QBI, and team leader, said.

"If we blocked the action of GH in the brains of these running animals, however, no such increase occurred, indicating GH was the primary regulator of this process."

"We are currently determining whether this grow GH-dependent increase in stem cell activity is able to reverse the cognitive decline seen in old animals by increasing production of new nerve cells."

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