See Inside June/July 2007

Exercising Generates New Brain Cells

Need another reason to hit the gym? New research suggests that working out builds more than just muscle. Exercise may improve memory by ramping up the creation of new brain cells.

Previous research has shown that exercise causes neuron formation in mice, so scientists at Columbia University and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego wanted to know whether this neurogenesis also occurs in humans. Mature brains spawn new neurons in only two locations, one of which is the dentate gyrus, a region in the hippocampus linked to age-related memory decline. The researchers theorized that if exercise triggers neurogenesis in the human dentate gyrus, then exercising could improve memory and help prevent its loss in old age.

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