Exercise Feeds the Brain and Makes You Smarter

Exercise Feeds the Brain and Makes You Smarter

Scientists at the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Neuroscience at the University of Tsukuba in Japan published interesting research in the August, 2011 edition of The Journal of Physiology.  They found that by using exercising and non-exercising rats that after bouts of exercise, glycogen energy stores in the astrocyte cells of the brain are significantly depleted.  But exercise then replenishes those energy stores by as much as 60% more than their baseline starting levels.  And these levels remain that way for 24 hours.  This effect is even more profound when rats are regularly exercised over a 4 week period of moderate intensity.  The new “super-compensated” replenished energy reserves become the new baseline…giving brains more reserved energy for many of its functions.

In humans this may explain the higher level of sustained cognitive function found in those who regularly exercise.  The study also found that consuming some carbohydrates soon after an exercise bout can enhance the energy replenishment process.  This supports the usual nutritional recommendations for post exercise training regimens in athletes…consume some carbohydrates and some protein within 20-60 minutes after exercise for best recovery and healthy outcomes.

The study is available here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21521757