Exercise Training Increases Mitochondrial Biogenesis in the Brain. A Journal of Applied Physiology topic.

We have included an indirectly related video link today. It will add some spice to a bland topic. This is a video of World Champions Slavik Kryklyvyy and Karina Smirnoff (last years Dancing with the Stars Champion). The video shows complex body motions that they make look simple, particularly at the 2:52 minute mark (right when you think the video is over) where we see the best in the word effortlessly solo demonstrate arguably some of the most difficult body movements, “Cuban/latin motion” of the Cha Cha. Even though the rest of the world embraces dance more than America, it isn’t for everyone. But, when some of America’s best athletes try this stuff and flounder repeatedly in front of America TV audiences despite weeks of practice one must trust the complexity of the motion from foot work to body control. We will see how Green Bay Packers NFL wide receiver Donald Driver will do when he trades in his football cleats for dancing shoes in a few weeks on Dancing with the Stars. There is a reason why top level pro athletes have challenged themselves behind closed doors with this stuff, because it makes them a better athlete. Our point? Master complex motions and simple ones become effortless. Here is a little piece of trivia for you…… name one of the best Latin dancers of all time ? Martial Artist Bruce Lee. Yup, Cha Cha Champion of Hong Kong. Looks like balance, flexibility, coordination, strength and speed of limb movement served him well in both ! We are not trying to pull the wool over your eyes gang, If you watch the first 10 seconds of the video again you can easily see how Slavik’s lightening fast, coordinated fluid moves are very much similar to open martial art moves. You cannot even see his footwork from the inside edges it is so fast. There is a reason we study these complex motions, because everything is simple after this stuff !

Now, onto today’s article discussing complex movements and exercise and their effect on brain function.

Exercise and complex movements put a demand on both the body and the brain. There are numerous articles confirming the positive benefits of continue physical activity through our life, even into our senior years. In fact, many peer reviewed articles confirm that for the elderly one of the best activities with low risk and high benefit is dancing. For the aged, dancing improves and positively challenges joint motion, balance and vestibular issues, cardiovascular health and muscle activity (strength and endurance) to name a few. It is well documented that with demands on the muscular system more mitochondrial production occurs in the muscles.

However, in 2011 in the Journal of Applied Physiology the authors sought to prove or disprove changes in mitochondria in the brain from exercise and activity demands.

In their mouse study (yes, there are human gene correlations with mice studies) where a treadmill to fatigue (8 weeks of treadmill running for 1 hr/d, 6 d/wk at 25m/min and a 5% incline) demand was executed followed up with specimen sacrifice. Twenty-four hours after the last training bout a subgroup of mice were sacrificed and brain (brainstem, cerebellum, cortex, frontal lobe, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and midbrain), and muscle (soleus) tissues were isolated for analysis of mRNA expression of several markers including mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).

All specimens showed improved Run-to-fatigue (RTF) but the study findings also suggested “that exercise training increases brain mitochondrial biogenesis which may have important implications, not only with regard to fatigue, but also with respect to various central nervous system diseases and age-related dementia that are often characterized by mitochondrial dysfunction.” – Steiner et al.

In the recent issue of Scientific American (link) Feb 29, 2012 the author Stephani Sutherland summarized their article by quoting one of the study’s authors,

“The finding(s) could help scientists understand how exercise staves off age- and disease-related declines in brain function, because neurons naturally lose mito­chondria as we age, Davis explains. Although past research has shown that exercise encourages the growth of new neurons in certain regions, the widespread expansion of the energy supply could underlie the benefits of exercise to more general brain functions such as mood regulation and dementia pre­vention. “The evidence is accumulating rapidly that exercise keeps the brain younger,” Davis says.

* Remember……. the cells in your body, whether in your lungs, your heart or your quadriceps, do not know if you are on a treadmill, in the water, on the dance floor or on the bike. All they know of is the neuro-endocrine/physiological demands that are placed on it by any given activity. This is the premise and value of cross training the body, to expand its challenges and experiences and to reduce repetitive strain type injuries. It is the act of being active that makes the cellular changes, not the activity of choice.

Shawn and Ivo……… keeping up with the research (and keeping it interesting), so you do not have to. We are…… The Gait Guys

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J Appl Physiol. 2011 Aug 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Exercise Training Increases Mitochondrial Biogenesis in the Brain.

Source : University of South Carolina.

Abstract (abstract link)

Increased muscle mitochondria are largely responsible for the increased resistance to fatigue and health benefits ascribed to exercise training. However, very little attention has been given to the likely benefits of increased brain mitochondria in this regard. We examined the effects of exercise training on markers of both brain and muscle mitochondrial biogenesis in relation to endurance capacity assessed by a treadmill run to fatigue (RTF) in mice. Male ICR mice were assigned to exercise (EX) or sedentary (SED) conditions (n=16-19/gr). EX mice performed 8 weeks of treadmill running for 1 hr/d, 6 d/wk at 25m/min and a 5% incline. Twenty-four hours after the last training bout a subgroup of mice (n=9-11/gr) were sacrificed and brain (brainstem, cerebellum, cortex, frontal lobe, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and midbrain), and muscle (soleus) tissues were isolated for analysis of mRNA expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1-alpha (PGC-1α), Silent Information Regulator T1 (SIRT1), citrate synthase (CS), and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) using RT-PCR. A different sub-group of EX and SED mice (n=7-8/gr), performed a treadmill RTF test. Exercise training increased PGC-1α, SIRT1 and CS mRNA and mtDNA, in most brain regions in addition to the soleus (P<0.05). Mean treadmill RTF increased from 74.0±9.6 min to 126.5±16.1 min following training (P<0.05). These findings suggest that exercise training increases brain mitochondrial biogenesis which may have important implications, not only with regard to fatigue, but also with respect to various central nervous system diseases and age-related dementia that are often characterized by mitochondrial dysfunction.