A few minutes, well, just six minutes of intensive exercise, is enough to boost the brain functioning and memory, according to a latest study.
The study published in Journal of Physiology said that intensive six minutes exercise produced a key protein in the brain that boosts brain formation, function, and memory. The protein is called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes both the growth and survival of neuron cells in the brain, as well as facilitating the development of new links and signaling pathways.
In the study, 12 physically active volunteers (aged 18 to 56 years) were put through three tests to see which was best at generating BDNF in the brain: 20 hours of fasting, 90 minutes of cycling, or 6 minutes of vigorous cycling.
The researchers found that intensive burst of cycling saw the best results in terms of BDNF production. In fact, it boosted BDNF levels in the blood by four or five times, compared with a slight increase after light exercise, and no change with fasting.
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING
The study showed that one possibility was the the increase in blood platelets that naturally occurs with exercise. Platelets store a large amount of BDNF, which might account for the spike that coincides with intense cycling.
Alternatively, the increase might be caused by the brain switching between fuel sources following intense exercise, the researchers say, forcing the body to draw on lactate rather than glucose reserves.
“This substrate switch allows the brain to utilize alternative fuels and initiates the production of key neurotrophic factors such as BDNF, says environmental physiologist Travis Gibbons, from the University of Otagoin New Zealand.
“We now have numerous studies linking together exercise with benefits that can be noticed in the brain, whether it’s improving concentration or giving a boost to cognitive function, and it’s likely that there are many more discoveries to come.”
“It is becoming more and more clear that exercise benefits brain health at all stages of life,” says Kate Thomas, exercise physiologist and study author at the University of Otago.
“These data show one avenue by which intense exercise may play a role. Fortunately, exercise is widely accessible, equitable, and affordable.”