The Brain Gains of Lifting

We’re on the fringe of mapping out the extraordinary effects that saturate the brain through exercise.

We’re learning more about how we can we forge our bodies through focused mechanical work. Not only that, but science is also beginning to uncover certain brain gains of lifting.

We can also influence the circuitry of our brains in ways that can have profoundly positive effects on cognitive function and depressive symptoms.

In a new study, scientists have identified lactate as an endogenous metabolite released through difficult muscular work.

Exercise-induced lactate production also triggers the expression of BDNF and TRKB signalling in the Hippocampus.

The researchers go on to explain that lactate-dependent BDNF expression is associated with enhanced spatial learning and memory retention.

With exercise being a vehicle to induce BDNF expression and lactate a key molecule in the process, these findings suggest a huge therapeutic potential.

If we can mimic the effects that exercise has on the brain, this could be a big help for some populations.

Particularly, people with CNS disorders in which BDNF signalling is disturbed and, who are unable to exercise.  

Research into the remarkable therapeutic power of exercise continues. So far, there appears to be no downside. 


  1. Lactate Mediates the Effects of Exercise on Learning and Memory through SIRT1-Dependent Activation of Hippocampal Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Hayek, et al. 2019

Danny James

Danny James is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Personal Trainer in Sydney, Australia. He has over ten years of experience working with the fastest track and field youth athletes in the country. He lives in Glebe with his beautiful wife Fabiana. Sign up for Danny's free newsletter and receive tips, insights and exclusive email-only content.

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