By: Victoria Northington
Christopher Newport University Senior | Biology Major
However, they were not 100% sure how it was doing so. It was not until 2013 when researchers at Harvard Medical School and Dana- Farber Cancer Institute found the exact molecule that was useful for the brain. This molecule was linked to the betterment of overall cognition as well as protecting the brain from gradual degeneration.
By crossing the brain barrier, irisin increases “the expression of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and activated genes involved in cognition” (Bergland, 2013). Conversely, the mice that were genetically altered to produce low irisin levels showed low amounts of BDNF and lower cognitive abilities.
BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is important for neurogenesis, growth of new neurons. According to Ronald Duman, Ph. D. at Yale University, BDNF reverses the damaging neural effects of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in times of stress, anxiety, and depression and leads to neuron death. During exercise, BDNF levels increase and Cortisol levels drop. BDNF combined with Irisin can make neurons stronger, and act as natural antidepressants. It is important to note that Irisin is not just beneficial for neural function but is also known for being a fat-burning powerhouse (Bergland, 2016). Like many other molecules, irisin has multiple functions. For this reason, Dr. Spiegelman feels much more research needs to be done on the irisin molecule to find out how else it may affect the body. Researchers are also curious to see if an artificial form can be administered to those who are unable to participate in daily exercise, but for now they are satisfied with their results (Bergland, 2013).
Exercise also has other neural impacts that not many people know of. Scientist are actively searching for new discoveries in the brain. I’m sure in a year or two there will be a whole new list of benefits that healthy living has on this unique organ. As of right now, scientist know that exercise benefits the brain by:
It seems that exercise is offering an amazing 2 for 1 deal. Both mentally and physically you will be improving yourself. So, if you are looking for another reason why working out should be a part of your daily routine just think about this. Whether you are running, dancing, lifting weights, or even stretching, you are working on a hotter body and a smarter brain AT THE SAME TIME. Crazy huh?
Be committed. Get fit. Get smarter.
Bergland, C. (2013, October 11). Scientists Discover Why Exercise Makes You Smarter. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/scientists-discover-why-exercise-makes-you-smarter
Bergland, C. (2016, October 05). Irisin: The "Exercise Hormone" Is a Fat-Fighting Phenomenon. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201610/irisin-the-exercise-hormone-is-fat-fighting-phenomenon
Cohen, J. (2012, August 13). 6 Ways Exercise Makes You Smarter. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2012/05/08/6-ways-exercise-makes-you-smarter/#724055c4305d
Fetters, K. Aleisha. "7 Ways Exercise Makes You Smarter." Fitness Magazine. Fitness Magazine, 30 Mar. 2017. Web. 11 Aug. 2017.
Your Personal Trainer
Need help reaching your fitness goal?