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Train your brain with muscle training

When you hear muscle training, you associate it with “bodybuilding” or “diet,” but that’s not all. As I have realized, my head turns better and my memory improves. And there are also papers that support the prevention of dementia.

For the first time in humans, a collaborative research group between the University of Tsukuba and the University of California, Irvine has shown that a short period of medium-intensity exercise improves the memory function of the hippocampus.

Short exercise improves memory

The function related to the human hippocampus is improved by 10 minutes of medium-intensity exercise! 

Points of research results

  1. We have demonstrated in humans that 10 minutes of medium intensity exercise improves the “discrimination ability of similar memory,” which is important for accurate memory.

  2. So far, the effects of exercise on the hippocampus have been extensively verified in animal studies, but this is the first time in the world that even short-term exercise has actually shown functional improvements related to the human hippocampus.

  3. Professor Seiya’s research group has proposed that short-term low-to-medium-intensity exercise is effective for cognitive functions such as attention / concentration, planning / judgment in the prefrontal cortex, but this time it improves memory. I newly confirmed that it is also useful.

January 17, 2017
Press release material
University of Tsukuba

Nerves that connect the brain and muscles

I think you know what kind of process muscles work, not just muscle training, but I’ll review it. For example, in the action of “raising the legs”, the brain issues a command to “raise the legs”. ⇒ An electrical signal runs from the brain to the nerves that connect to the legs. ⇒ The muscles of the leg that received the signal contract and “the leg rises”.

Everyone knows it and you might think, “So?”, But this is important.

The muscles you normally use move naturally without being aware of it. This is a nerve that can be used unconsciously because it always uses that nerve. Seven to eight months old, hard-walking babies are learning which nerves to use and where to move.

Even if you are teaching a beginner in muscle training, you will be taught to “be aware of the muscles you are using” at an early stage. Even adults can understand that they use the biceps brachii (biceps) if they are conscious, but they are conscious of muscles that they do not usually pay attention to, such as the triceps brachii (the muscle on the opposite side of the biceps). It is difficult to hold. Have you ever seen a muscular man moving his chest muscles one by one? That’s because the nerves that connect the brain and chest muscles are well developed.

In this way, muscle training develops nerves when muscles are trained. And the brain, which is a mass of nerve cells, develops at the same time.

Muscle training makes you smarter “BDNF” increases

BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” that promotes the development, growth, maintenance and regeneration of nerve cells, and is abundant in the hippocampus.

When you do muscle training, the hormone “Irisin” that works to increase fat burning and basal metabolism is secreted. It then enters the brain through the blood and increases “BDNF”.

* For reference, it seems that high cacao chocolate may also increase “BDNF” to enhance cognitive function.
After muscle training, I’m thinking of supplementing muscle glycogen with chocolate.

Effect of “BDNF”

In recent years, the effects of “BDNF”, which has been attracting attention in brain science and psychiatry, have effects such as “increasing nerve cells in the brain” and “promoting the formation of synapses” in the brain, which enhances cognitive function. Will do it.

In an experiment conducted by an American research team on 120 men and women with an average age of 70 years (divided into those who exercise and those who do not), it seems that the hippocampus grew by about 2% after continuing exercise. By the way, it seems that those who did not exercise were atrophied by 1-2%.

* References: “Kyoto University Muscles” 2015 and “Kyoto University Muscles 2” 2018 by Toshio Moritani, Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University