Exercise and Its Effects on the Central Nervous System

Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 5230 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA.
Current Sports Medicine Reports (Impact Factor: 1.55). 03/2005; 4(1):18-23. DOI: 10.1097/01.CSMR.0000306066.14026.77
Source: PubMed


Exercise can have profound effects on numerous biologic systems within the human body, including the central nervous system (CNS). The inherent complexity of the CNS, and the methodologic difficulties in evaluating its in vivo neurochemistry in humans, provide challenges to investigators studying the impact of exercise on the CNS. As a result, our knowledge in this area of exercise science remains relatively limited. However, advances in research technology are allowing investigators to gain valuable insight into the neurobiologic mechanisms that contribute to the bidirectional communication that occurs between the periphery and the CNS during exercise. This article examines how exercise-induced alterations in the CNS contribute to central fatigue and the overtraining syndrome, and how exercise can influence psychologic wellbeing and cognitive function.

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    • "Whereas confinement itself seems to be related to a depression of brain cortical activity, exercise seems to activate brain cortical processes. As recent studies show that exercise has a positive impact on cognitive function [1] [3] [24] [27], mediated by changes in brain cortical activity [15], further studies should aim to find an increase in cognitive performance mediated by exercise during isolation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Confinement studies are performed to simulate the psychological effects that may be experienced on a long-term space flight. A general psycho-physiological model assumes that mood and cognitive functioning are impaired during confinement as a result of an absence of physical activity. The aim of the MARS500 study initiated by the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) and the European Space Agency (ESA) is to gather data, knowledge and experience to help prepare for a real mission to Mars. A test run with 105 days of isolation was performed prior to 520 days of isolation. Psycho-physiological data of this study are presented here. We hypothesized that exercise, as it has been shown in laboratory settings, would be able to prevent and counteract mood changes during isolation. Electrocortical data (EEG) and a self report on current psychological and physical state were recorded several times prior to and after exercise during the isolation period. Data revealed a clear effect of exercise on mood and electrocortical activity. Moreover, it was shown that mood and brain cortical activity decreased during the first 11 weeks of isolation and reached baseline again in the last week of isolation. A correlation analysis revealed a significant relation between mood data and electrocortical activity. We conclude (1) that confinement is accompanied by psycho-physiological changes and (2) that exercise is a suitable method to counteract psycho-physiological deconditioning during confinement.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2010 · Behavioural brain research
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    • "It should also be noted that these studies were conducted within an hour or two of high levels of aerobic activity. The literature examining exercise and cognitive performance is mixed, with some studies reporting decrements in performance, no effects of exercise, or improvements in performance following exercise (for a review, see Anish, 2005). It is possible that there were some carryover effects of exercise on mood and cognition in the present studies, and it is not known to what extent exercise and hydration status may interact. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive and mood decrements resulting from mild dehydration and glucose consumption were studied. Men and women (total N = 54; M age = 19.8 yr., SD = 1.2) were recruited from college athletic teams. Euhydration or dehydration was achieved by athletes completing team practices with or without water replacement. Dehydration was associated with higher thirst and negative mood ratings as well as better Digit Span performance. Participants showed better Vigilance Attention with euhydration. Hydration status and athlete's sex interacted with performance on Choice Reaction Time and Vigilance Attention. In a second study, half of the athletes received glucose prior to cognitive testing. Results for negative mood and thirst ratings were similar, but for cognitive performance the results were mixed. Effects of glucose on cognition were independent of dehydration.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · Perceptual and Motor Skills
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    ABSTRACT: Voluntary physical training and exercise have favorable effects on the central nervous system and brain plasticity. The motor cortex and spinal cord possess the ability to alter structure and function in response to motor training. It is also reported that intensive training and exercise may enhance motor recovery or even restore motor function in people who have been long paralyzed due to spinal cord injury or stroke. We review the effects of exercise on the nervous system and discuss the mechanism for the exercise effects.
    No preview · Chapter · Dec 2008
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