Exercise has always been beneficial to health. It changes the structure of the body while improving chemical processes within. One lesser known idea, however, is that exercise may even be affecting the brain – both its mood regulators and its structure.
The wonders of exercise
Fitness changes the human being in amazing ways. The fact that being active may actually affect the brain is one more reason to get active NOW! So, how do we really know this is true? Well, of course, science has uncovered some pretty thought-provoking evidence.
Some of the best test subjects would have to be twins. Scientists in Finland, taking advantage of the FinnTwin16 database, have been studying twins to understand the reason why staying active results in a healthier brain. Twins, who were both active in childhood but went in totally different directions, provide a closer look at how exercise improves the brain. One twin remains active into adulthood while the other chooses to not participate in exercise, for the most part. With ten sets of twins, scientists set out to make the connection that supports this theory.
Of course, exercise produces many physical changes, inside and out. The form changes – muscles grow and fat is burned. Within the body, chemicals change making blood sugar levels easier to control. These changes could possibly come from healthy eating, but when twins have the same diet, this is not a major factor. It seems that exercise plays the larger role in staying physically fit. Taking a look at identical twins, it is obvious who exercises and who does not. Physical changes are usually pretty easy to notice!
Changes in the Brain
Research shows that not only are the bodies of the twins varied, but their brains are different as well. In the brain of the active twin, there is actually more gray matter, in two regions of the brain. Gray matter is responsible for coordination!
Emotions were also changed, with the active twin feeling more self-confident and positive. Anxiety levels were lower and there was little sign of depression. Of course, it is hard to prove cause and effect, but it seems that exercise plays a huge role in this fact. This study was published in The Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
Genetics and background are similarities that play the main roles in this testing. Identical twins provide perfect options for tests because they share 100% of their DNA. They also grow up together and share many similarities.
The study suggests that exercise does have a contributing effect on the brain. Unfortunately, tests are not controlled and these findings are not conclusive. The good news is that scientists have provided enough evidence to carry further tests, and hope to make a clear connection between being physically active and having an active brain! This would solve many problems for the human race as a whole.
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