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Inactivity and the Brain - A Study

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I found an interesting article in the NY Times: How Inactivity Changes the Brain by Gretchen Reynolds , dated Jan 22, 2014.

Below is a direct quote from that article:

“A number of studies have shown that exercise can remodel the brain by prompting the creation of new brain cells and inducing other changes. Now it appears that inactivity, too, can remodel the brain, according to a notable new report.

The study, which was conducted in rats but likely has implications for people too, the researchers say, found that being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in ways that significantly affect not just the brain but the heart as well. The findings may help to explain, in part, why a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for us.

Until about 20 years ago, most scientists believed that the brain’s structure was fixed by adulthood, that you couldn’t create new brain cells, alter the shape of those that existed or in any other way change your mind physically after adolescence.

But in the years since, neurological studies have established that the brain retains plasticity, or the capacity to be reshaped, throughout our lifetimes. Exercise appears to be particularly adept at remodeling the brain, studies showed.

But little has been known about whether inactivity likewise alters the structure of the brain and, if so, what the consequences might be.

So for a study recently published in The Journal of Comparative Neurology, scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine and other institutions gathered a dozen rats. They settled half of them in cages with running wheels and let the animals run at will. Rats like running, and these animals were soon covering about three miles a day on their wheels.
The other rats were housed in cages without wheels and remained sedentary.”

After three months of resting or running, the rats’ brains were examined.

The rats who were resting had changes take place “in ways that made them likely to overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system, potentially increasing blood pressure and contributing to the development of heart disease.”

“This finding is important because it adds to our understanding of how, at a cellular level, inactivity increases the risk of heart disease.... "

"But even more intriguing, the results underscore that inactivity can change the structure and functioning of the brain, just as activity does.”


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
WORDLILY 1/31/2014 8:42AM

    Interesting, indeed.

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LADYRH 1/29/2014 6:55AM


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    And THAT is why I am never retiring!

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LJCANNON 1/28/2014 7:09PM

    emoticon This Incredibly Motivating!! Who cares what the Stupid Scale says, if you know that Staying Active is keeping your Brain Young and Active.

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CATLADY52 1/28/2014 6:52PM

    Thanks for the info! I don't want to let my brain get sluggish emoticon . That's just not right.

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BOOKAPHILE 1/28/2014 6:30PM

    Good thing I had my workout today. I only want good changes to my brain!

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CARRAND 1/28/2014 2:32PM


I stimulated my brain this morning with a 1 hour yoga class and a 45 minute spin class! I knew there was a reason I don't like to sit still.

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DSHONEYC 1/28/2014 11:00AM

    Rats - I thought I thaw a pussycat.

Everything we do, and now what we don't do, effects our brain. Love learning more about the amazing brain. Worked with neuroscientists for over 4 years and learned so much. And so much more to learn. We know how everything else works in the body, but the brain remains such a mystery. Thanks for sharing.


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    Time for me to get off my butt. LOL.

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GOLFGMA 1/28/2014 9:53AM

    I had read an article that stated exercise caused one area of the brain to increase in size and that is a good reason for all of us to get moving. emoticon

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RITZIBROWN 1/28/2014 9:51AM

    emoticon Makes a lot of sense. Motivated me to take the dog for a walk even though it's cold out!

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PHOENIX1949 1/28/2014 8:06AM

    Very interesting. More confirmation that it's wise to get moving. Thank you for sharing this.

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/28/2014 7:24AM

    Fascinating. It's all connected, isn't it? Makes taking those active breaks from a sedentary job even MORE vital! emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 1/28/2014 7:04AM

    OK, then: I'm installing a wheel in my cage pronto!

Seriously, what a great article. Thanks for drawing it our attention. It's so encouraging to know that we can continue shaping our brains through our activities. And that doing so has huge health benefits. Inspiring!

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DAISY443 1/28/2014 6:55AM

    Inactivity breeds inactivity. Activity breeds activity! Thanks for sharing the great information!

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LADYRH 1/28/2014 4:34AM

    Very informative emoticon

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