Regular Exercise Strengthens the Communication Between Brain Cells

Recalling of experience are extremely complex processes that need good communication between the brain cells. The connections between neurons, referred to as synapses, are made up of chemical and electrical signals that pass on from cell to cell. These signals can flow with frequency and vigor or be irregular and weak. Previous research found that stress weakens the synapses.

In the current study, the researchers divided some healthy male mice into three groups. Some of those where let to lead their normal rodent lives, to act as control; some, at their own will, enjoyed running on wheels in their cages, covering some three miles a day.

After a month, the researchers exposed some of the runners and some of the sedentary animals to three days of stressful experiences.

Then, they had some animals from each group learn a maze with a treat at the other end, to observe if there were any changes in the animals’ synapses that would be reflected in recalling their experience.

They found that the effectiveness of the synapses had been reduced by chronic stress in the sedentary, stressed-out animals, in comparison with the control mice. The intracellular connections were weaker.

On the other hand, the unstressed runners, now had the busiest, strongest synapses, suggesting a higher ability to learn and retain information than their counterparts.

The runner group mice that was also subjected to chronic stress, had synapses like that of the unstressed, normal control group. These were not as strong as the never-stressed runners, but were stronger than the stressed.

Further, the runners, both stressed and unstressed, were quick to learn the spot of the treats in the maze than that of the sedentary mice. They also remembered it accurately and quickly several weeks later.

Thus, this study suggests that regular exercise can neutralize the adverse effects of stress by strengthening communication between the brain cells.

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