Ploughman M. Exercise is brain food: the effects of physical activity on cognitive function

Clinical Research, Rehabilitation Program, Eastern Health Authority, St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Developmental neurorehabilitation (Impact Factor: 2.05). 01/2008; 11(3):236-40. DOI: 10.1080/17518420801997007
Source: PubMed


This commentary reviews selected biomedical and clinical research examining the relationship between physical exercise and cognitive function especially in youth with disability. Youth with physical disability may not benefit from the effects of exercise on cardiovascular fitness and brain health since they are less active than their non-disabled peers. In animal models, physical activity enhances memory and learning, promotes neurogenesis and protects the nervous system from injury and neurodegenerative disease. Neurotrophins, endogenous proteins that support brain plasticity likely mediate the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain. In clinical studies, exercise increases brain volume in areas implicated in executive processing, improves cognition in children with cerebral palsy and enhances phonemic skill in school children with reading difficulty. Studies examining the intensity of exercise required to optimize neurotrophins suggest that moderation is important. Sustained increases in neurotrophin levels occur with prolonged low intensity exercise, while higher intensity exercise, in a rat model of brain injury, elevates the stress hormone, corticosterone. Clearly, moderate physical activity is important for youth whose brains are highly plastic and perhaps even more critical for young people with physical disability.

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Available from: Michelle Ploughman
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    • "El ejercicio físico aeróbico crónico produce cambios en regiones cerebrales asociadas a la memoria y aprendizaje (Maureira, 2014), relacionadas con un aumento de factores de crecimientos como el IGF-1 (factor de crecimiento insulínico tipo 1), VEGF (factor de crecimiento vascular endotelial) y BDNF (factor neurotrófico derivado del cerebro), siendo este último el principal agente de neurogénesis (Churchill, Galvez, Colcombe, Swain, Kramer y Greenough, 2002). Existe evidencia que el impacto positivo del ejercicio sobre la actividad cerebral es acumulativo cuando la actividad física es moderada y regular (Ploughman, 2008 "
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    ABSTRACT: El objetivo del presente estudio fue conocer los efectos de una sesión de ejercicio físico aeróbico y anaeróbico sobre los niveles de inhibición de la interferencia en estudiantes universitarios con edades entre los 19 y 34 años. Para ellos se evaluaron 44 personas (23 damas y 21 varones) asignadas aleatoriamente a un grupo con intervención de 30 minutos de actividad aeróbica en bicicleta estática al 60% de su FCmáx., a un grupo de trabajo aeróbico subiendo y bajando un escalón al 60% de su FCmáx., a un grupo de trabajo de ejercicios de fuerza al 85% de una RM y a un grupo control. Los resultados muestran que no existen efectos de ninguno de los tres tipos de intervención sobre la inhibición, no existiendo diferencia en la puntuación total pre y post intervención de cada grupo, ni diferencia entre las puntuaciones post-intervención entre los cuatro grupos. Son necesarias futuras investigaciones para conocer si la aplicación continua de ejercicio físico produce mejoras en esta función ejecutiva
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · EmasF. Revista Digital de Educación Física
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    • "Aerobic exercise (AE) is one intervention recommended as part of stroke best practices to improve gait and cardiovascular fitness [10] [11]. Researchers are beginning to explore how AE, by increasing neurotrophins and blood supply to the brain, could also improve other outcomes (unrelated to fitness and gait) such as cognition and relearning of complex skills [12]. Two recent meta-analyses confirmed that AE enhanced cognitive performance, at least in healthy populations [13] [14]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although poststroke aerobic exercise (AE) increases markers of neuroplasticity and protects perilesional tissue, the degree to which it enhances complex motor or cognitive outcomes is unknown. Previous research suggests that timing and dosage of exercise may be important. We synthesized data from clinical and animal studies in order to determine optimal AE training parameters and recovery outcomes for future research. Using predefined criteria, we included clinical trials of stroke of any type or duration and animal studies employing any established models of stroke. Of the 5,259 titles returned, 52 articles met our criteria, measuring the effects of AE on balance, lower extremity coordination, upper limb motor skills, learning, processing speed, memory, and executive function. We found that early-initiated low-to-moderate intensity AE improved locomotor coordination in rodents. In clinical trials, AE improved balance and lower limb coordination irrespective of intervention modality or parameter. In contrast, fine upper limb recovery was relatively resistant to AE. In terms of cognitive outcomes, poststroke AE in animals improved memory and learning, except when training was too intense. However, in clinical trials, combined training protocols more consistently improved cognition. We noted a paucity of studies examining the benefits of AE on recovery beyond cessation of the intervention.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016
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    • "As a result, the effectiveness of regular exercise behavior as a means to improve cognitive performance remains a subject of debate, not only among scientists, but also among policy makers. When published findings are summarized , associations between exercise behavior and cognitive performance appear positive on average, but vary considerably in strength (Fedewa & Ahn, 2011; Hindin & Zelinski, 2012; Ploughman, 2008; Singh, Uijtdewilligen, Twisk, van Mechelen, & Chinapaw, 2012; Taras, 2005; Trudeau & Shephard, 2008; Verburgh, Konigs, Scherder, & Oosterlaan, 2014). The literature provides four major sources of heterogeneity among study outcomes, the first concerning sample constitution (Singh et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Regular exercise has often been suggested to have beneficial effects on cognition, but empirical findings are mixed because of heterogeneity in sample composition (age and sex); the cognitive domain being investigated; the definition and reliability of exercise behavior measures; and study design (e.g., observational versus experimental). Our aim was to scrutinize the domain specificity of exercise effects on cognition, while controlling for the other sources of heterogeneity. In a population based sample consisting of 472 males and 668 females (aged 10-86years old) we administered the Computerized Neurocognitive Battery (CNB), which provided accuracy and speed measures of abstraction and mental flexibility, attention, working memory, memory (verbal, face, and spatial), language and nonverbal reasoning, spatial ability, emotion identification, emotion- and age differentiation, sensorimotor speed, and motor speed. Using univariate and multivariate regression models, CNB scores were associated with participants' average energy expenditure per week (weekly METhours), which were derived from a questionnaire on voluntary regular leisure time exercise behavior. Univariate models yielded generally positive associations between weekly METhours and cognitive accuracy and speed, but multivariate modeling demonstrated that direct relations were small and centered around zero. The largest and only significant effect size (β=0.11, p<0.001) was on the continuous performance test, which measures attention. Our results suggest that in the base population, any chronic effects of voluntary regular leisure time exercise on cognition are limited. Only a relation between exercise and attention inspires confidence. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Brain and Cognition
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