Squatting: not just for legs, but brains too
New Italian research shows that weight-bearing exercise for our legs sends signals to the brain that are vital to produce healthy neural cells. This study fundamentally alters brain and nervous system medicine, supporting the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and their nervous system is adversely impacted.
The study found that in a group of mice with limited physical activity the number of neural stem cells decreased by 70 percent compared to a control group which were allowed to roam. Furthermore, specialised cells that support and insulate nerve cells didn’t fully mature when exercise was severely reduced.
The research highlighted that weight-bearing exercise using the legs sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells, essential for the brain and nervous system. Without such exercise the body finds it more difficult to produce new nerve cells — part of the foundation that allows us to handle stress and adapt to challenge in our lives.
The research highlights one of the fundamental defining aspects of all animals: we are designed to move. People are meant to be active, with this research emphasising that the use of our leg muscles, within an environment determined by gravity and resistance, has an impact beyond just our physical wellbeing. Rather neurological health is not a one-way street, with the brain simply sending instructions to muscles; the brain needs the workout as much as the muscles.
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