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Sustained Aerobic Exercise Creates New Neurons

February 23, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Finnish researchers who examined the effects of various types of exercise on the brain in an animal study found that long periods of running generated significantly higher amounts of new neurons in the hippocampus. The eight-week experiment involved rats that were genetically bred to have either a high or low response to aerobic training. Exercises included sustained running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance training. The highest number of new hippocampal neurons was observed in rats that ran long distances and were genetically predisposed to benefit from aerobic exercise: they had 2-3 times more new hippocampal neurons at the end of the experiment than sedentary animals. The results suggest that long periods of aerobic exercise boost neuron creation, improving the brain’s ability to perform short-term or spatially complex tasks.
Miriam S. Nokia et al., "Physical exercise increases adult hippocampal neurogenesis in male rats provided it is aerobic and sustained. ", The Journal of Physiology, February 23, 2016, © The Physiological Society
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