A fairly readable if a bit “friendly” article about a somewhat technical subject:
Your Brain On A Runner’s High: How Aerobic Exercise Creates New Cells Through Neurogenesis
Nov 5, 2016 10:00 AM By Quora Contributor
Recently, a group of scientists at the University of Ottawa published the newest evidence that getting off your duff makes your brain stronger. It’s sad news for the couch potatoes of the world. For those who wear out a pair of running shoes (or two) every year, it’s one of those studies that isn’t much of a surprise.
Physical exercise and specifically aerobic exercise does some very positive things for the brain. There’s a lot of scientific evidence that exercise allows for neurogenesis which is neuron repair and new neuron formation. Since the brain is heavily made up of neurons, high levels of neurogenesis are a good indication of a healthy brain. It’s like looking at a city and seeing a bunch of cranes and construction teams working on buildings. Only healthy systems have the resources for repairing infrastructure. Disrepair, by contrast, is a mark of wavering health.
Exercise is valuable for the brain in lots of different ways. Learning a new sport, like picking up golf or tennis for the first time, challenges the brain’s ability to remodel its connections. Any kind of exercise is a positive influence on the body, but neurogenesis seems to be triggered most by extended periods of aerobic exercise. High intensity interval training like you might find at cross fit doesn’t seem to provide the same increase in neuron repair.
Drat. I really don’t care for aerobic exercise. Much prefer things like weight lifting and digging in the garden.
So, OK, time to get the tires pumped up on the bike.
They then spend a while explaining the endorphin release and runners high that makes you feel good (that somehow I’ve never seemed to get… running does NOT make me feel good…) and then move on to the next bit.
The recent paper published from the scientists at the University of Ottawa saw that another chemical called VGF increased after aerobic exercise. VGF doesn’t stand for anything. That’s just its name.
I wondered about that as GF looks a lot like the abbreviation for Growth Factor… But the wiki says no too. It does have an interesting bit of information about how the works. ONE thing is transcribed into a string of amino acids, then it gets chopped up into bits that do different things. This is starting to explain how we can only have about 30,000 genes but a lot more protiens… Make one and then chop it into functional units.
VGF or VGF nerve growth factor inducible is a secreted protein and neuropeptide precursor that may play a role in regulating energy homeostasis, metabolism and synaptic plasticity. The protein was first discovered in 1985 by Levi et al. in an experiment with PC12 cells and its name is non-acronymic. VGF gene encodes a precursor which is divided by proteolysis to polypeptides of different mass, which have a variety of functions, the best studied of which are the roles of TLQP-21 in the control of appetite and inflammation., and TLQP-62 as well as AQEE-30 in regulating depression-like behaviors and memory. The expression of VGF and VGF-derived peptides is detected in a subset of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems and specific populations of endocrine cells in the adenohypophysis, adrenal medulla, gastrointestinal tract, and pancreas. VGF expression is induced by NGF, CREB and BDNF and regulated by neurotrophin-3. Physical exercise significantly increases VGF expression in mice hippocampal tissue and upregulates a neurotrophic signaling cascade thought to underlie the action of antidepressants.
So, OK. Take all those drugged up depressed kids sitting all day at desks plotting their revenge, and send them out for 2 hours of aerobic P.E. per day. But it does look like exercise is important to depression avoidance and good health.
Back at the original link:
Scientists haven’t yet pinned down all the things that VGF does. It’s like a secretive musician who might very well be publishing novels under a pseudonym. Chemicals in the body tend to moonlight and it might take decades to uncover all the things they do. VGF was the star of show that the scientists in Ottawa just published. These scientists were working with mice that were not normal. The mice had a genetic dysfunction that caused them to walk and move around in labored ways. The mice also had very short lifespans. Both of these afflictions, difficulty with movement and early death were associated with a genetic degradation of the cerebellum, the part of the brain generally known for control of physical movements.
What the scientists in Ottawa showed was that they could repair the genetic damage to the mouse brains in two ways. They could either give the mice a big dose of VGF, or they could give the mice a treadmill. In both cases the little vermin lived markedly longer, moved more normally, and showed positive infrastructure repair to the tissues in the brain.
This also would help explain things like the tendency of folks to suddenly go down hill when they retire and have a lot of leisure time; but get depressed just sitting around the house.
So, OK, I need to have a more formal exercise program as, at present, I’ve got zero aerobic anything going on.