December 16, 2019

The Brain Gains of Lifting

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

It’s an exciting time to be alive as we learn that not only can we forge our bodies through focused mechanical work, we can also influence the circuitry of our brains in ways that can have profoundly positive effects on cognitive function and depressive symptoms.

Scientists have identified lactate as an endogenous metabolite released through difficult muscular work. This lactate production triggers the expression of BDNF in the Hippocampus which 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 for people with CNS disorders in which BDNF signalling is disturbed and who are unable to exercise.

If we can somehow mimic the effects that exercise has on the brain, this would be a big step forward for them.  

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

Until next time – 


Reference:  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

Filed Under: Movement 

Danny James

Danny James is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Personal Trainer with over ten years of experience working with the fastest track and field youth athletes in the country. He lives in Sydney, Australia 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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