Does exercise help to improve your memory?
Research suggests that exercise can boost cognitive function. This may be because exercise (such as running) leads to an increase in blood levels of cathepsin B, a protein that spurs the growth of brain cells.
To find out more, researchers looked at a number of different proteins secreted by muscle tissue. In the laboratory, they exposed muscle cells to compounds that produce the same effects as exercise and found that the cells responded by excreting cathepsin B. The investigators also noted high levels of cathepsin B in mice that had been using an exercise wheel every day for several weeks.
The researchers then used two groups of mice to find out how increased levels of cathepsin B might affect memory. The mice in one group were unable to produce cathepsin B, whereas the other group produced the protein normally. Both groups of mice did “water maze” tests for one week. Results showed that the mice unable to produce cathepsin B could not remember the route successfully, something that the mice in the other group were able to do. This implies that levels of cathepsin B may be important to memory.
Test results suggest that exercise is important in producing cathepsin B in humans as well as in mice. A comparison between people with high and low levels of cathepsin B shows that those with high levels tend to perform best in memory tasks.