Leg exercise is critical to brain and nervous system health

Leg exercise is critical to brain and nervous system health

"New research shows that using the legs, particularly in weight-bearing exercise, sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells."

This research supports what we already know, but in a new spin, that sensory input is just as important as motor output. This study gives new clues into why people with motorneuron diseases (spinalmuscular atrophy etc) decline so quickly as their movement impairment deepens.

This research might suggest that those who do not continue to weight bear load, such as bedridden or chronically ill patients and even the aging population, are at risk for faster decline. "Not only (do they) lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and even their nervous system is adversely impacted," says Dr. Raffaella Adami from the Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.

"Limiting physical activity decreased the number of neural stem cells by 70 percent compared to a control group of mice, which were allowed to roam. Furthermore, both neurons and oligodendrocytes -- specialized cells that support and insulate nerve cells -- didn't fully mature when exercise was severely reduced."

"Reducing exercise also seems to impact two genes, one of which, CDK5Rap1, is very important for the health of mitochondria -- the cellular powerhouse that releases energy the body can then use. This represents another feedback loop."

Bottom line here folks, you have to move, you have to load, especially if you have a neurologic disorder and especially if you are declining in age. At the very least, throw some lunges or body weight squats into your day. Walk the stairs, don't ride the elevator. Move. Lift. Strain.