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ACSM In The News

ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Exercise is Medicine for the Brain, Too

by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2011
Expert: Protein “functions like Miracle-Gro for the brain”

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Exercise – long known to promote heart and bone health, among other benefits – increases the growth of brain cells and improves brain function, according to research reviewed today at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 15th-annual Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition.

Terry Eckmann, Ph.D., briefed attendees on recent findings, saying the protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is “like Miracle-Gro for the brain.” BDNF, Eckmann explained, helps to grow new neurons in the hippocampus and helps the transmission of information across the synapses of neurons.

Fueling these enhanced brain processes, quite literally, are elevated levels of oxygen and glucose which the cardiovascular system – strengthened by exercise – can deliver to the brain. The brain uses about 20 percent of the body’s oxygen and glucose.

Scientists have also found that repetitive gross motor movement strengthens the branching of dendrites, which conduct electrochemical stimulation among neurons. “Dendrites receive messages from surrounding brain neurons, and the more dendrites, the more information can be transmitted and stored,” said Eckmann.

Recent studies show that students with higher fitness levels score higher on academic tests and show an improved ability to focus. Scientists have also documented the ability of exercise to help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Exercise balances brain chemicals, hormones and system functions,” said Eckmann. “Research suggests that every system of the body functions more efficiently with regular exercise. Exercise is medicine and can make a difference in disease prevention and management.”

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The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 40,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

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