Mar 28 2012

NYT: "How Exercise Fuels the Brain"

Researchers at The University of Tsukuba in Japan wondered if the brain compensated after the energy demands placed on it during exercise. They reasoned by analogy: the muscles go through a supercompensation phase after exercise, what about the brain?

It is known that the brain is a huge consumer of energy, using almost a 20% of the body’s energy. The researchers also understood that the glial cells, have reserves of energy that can be depleted by exertion but they did not know if the brain went through a rapid recovery phase. They hypothesized that if it did, there would be important implications for how exercise affects brain power.

ᔥ The results in tests on rats were promising, ” brain levels of glycogen not only had been restored to what they had been before the workout, but had soared past that point, increasing by as much as a 60 percent in the frontal cortex and hippocampus and slightly less in other parts of the brain. The astrocytes had “overcompensated,” resulting in a kind of brain carbo-loading.”

24 hours later, energy levels in the brain were back to normal.

That was not the case, though, if the animals continued to exercise. In those rats that ran for four weeks, the supercompensation” became the new normal, with their baseline levels of glycogen showing substantial increases compared with the sedentary animals. The increases were especially notable in, again, those portions of the brain critical to learning and memory formation — the cortex and the hippocampus.”

Exercise makes your brain re-energize itself.

You can help the refueling phase by drinking a bottle of chocolate milk or eating a banana after exercise that is prolonged or strenuous enough to leave you tired.

read NYT’s, How exercise fuels the brain