Run! for the sake of your brain.

With the Melbourne marathon recently occurring,  why not educate you all on some glorious benefits aerobic exercise (especially running) has on the robustness of our health and well-being.

We are lectured by allied health professionals (with good intentions) to perform aerobic exercise on a regular basis. And thus we know the cardiovascular benefits associated with this. So…Knowing my obsession with the brain, I’m going to give you all some brain bombs!!!


Ageing is associated with cognitive decline and deterioration of grey/white matter in our brain. Our grey and white matter is important for our central nervous system and all the complexity’s that go on, typing this blog is requiring my white and grey matter! . If we lose tissue (atrophy) in areas of our brain that process information like are Pre-frontal, Temporal and  Parietal regions of our brain, our ability to function is going to decrease and if you do the math you know wants going to happen next.

But never fear because all of our cognitive abilities can be enhanced and reversed with aerobic exercises.

Here are some benefits!

Aerobic exercise can reverse age related cognitive declines and improve executive function and task orientation.

Aerobic exercise improves cognitive function in older adults who are demented (dementia)

Aerobic exercise increases grey matter volume in our pre-frontal circuits. Huh? That means there is more neuronal cell bodies, axons, dendrites and so forth that are important for communication and motor control.

Aerobic exercise increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus along with cerebral blood flow. Neurogenesis is the growth of immature nerve cells and along with increased blood going to the hippocampus which is where are short-term long-term potentiating takes place, basically your memory will improve.

Lastly are Anterior cingulate cortex,which has been shown in functional imaging to be closely correlated to increased signalling in pain and pain intensity along with behavioral conflict quiet’s down with aerobic exercise. This will make you less sensitive and responsive to negative/painful situations.

So to the practicality.

The Australian physical activity guidelines recommends 150-300 min of moderate activity a week at the minimum. So this can be 20-30 min of moderate aerobic exercise over 3-5 sessions, which will give you the physiological/neurological benefits. BUT, we can always do more!

Well there you go! I have barely scratched the surface, but I’m sure I have got you meta-cognitively thinking about dusting of the cobwebs and getting a sweat up.

James 🙂


Aerobic exercise effect on cognitive and neural plasticity in older adults.

Br J Sports Med. 2009 Jan;43(1):22-4. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2008.052498. Epub 2008 Oct 16

Part 2. Sleep, stress and sickness are they interrelated?

So…part 1 (if you read it…?) hopefully gave you a bit of knowledge into the complexities of the human body, and our interrelated mind-body connection. And thus locked you in to read part two.

Have you ever wondered how some get sick more often? and how others seem to be bulletproof?. Is it a magic pill? maybe a placebo? NO! it’s ones psychological influences that are going to determine if one gets sick or not.

How so?

Acute/chronic stress, social inhibition, depression, anxiety, sleep, inactivity and inflammation to name a few are going to challenge and ultimately release a cascade of immunological sequences that will get you sick.

Has any of the above happened to you in the past six months?

Let’s look at what the evidence is saying and how one can become more “bulletproof”

Allostatic load is the exposure to repeated stress, we all know the saying “wear and tear” right? well that’s what is happening if we continually expose ourself to the same stimulus.

So what is happening with are immune system?

It’s not good I’m afraid…..:(

If it’s marital problems or having to care for a relative with dementia. Research is telling us that when exposed repeatedly to stress, catecholamines which are stress hormones (epinephrine) via our adrenal glands are priming our flight-fight mode to deal with the neighbouring stress. Stress releases pro inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-6)  to name one which is present if one is experiencing a fever and thus working overtime to cope, and while were on the topic, are you already working overtime?. High levels of interleukin-6 have been linked to “future disability”  in older populations. You ‘re getting the gist.

“Stress impedes wound healing” wounds took 24-40% longer in stressed individuals (kiecoltglaser, 1998) along with all the nasty pro inflammatory’s. Fear pre surgery also had poorer outcomes and more frequent hospital visits (Contrada, 1993) Stress for exams do the same…Vaccines have a poorer immune response too.

I haven’t even discussed anxiety or depression or functional changes in the brain, but I know your starting to understand how we think, what environment we are in and how we look after ourself is the major predictor for illness. And I want to talk about all the good things we can do to improve our immunity!

So! What can we do…?

Anything that gives our psychoneuroimmunology some robustness.

Exercise (especially aerobic) 


anti inflammatory foods 

Adequate sleep, as discussed in part 1. 

Optimism. YES optimism!

Being emotionally/spiritually connected to the right relationships. 

See, all is not doom and gloom.

And yes sleep, stress and sickness are interrelated!

I hope I have given you something to think about?

Happy mind and body’s peeps.

James 🙂


As it has been mental health week, I feel it would be nice to spread some knowledge and love to you all 🙂

If you have been following me on Facebook you would know by now my passion for spreading my love of the brain. And hey why not? we only have one brain, we have our OWN DNA that we can do whatever we like with, and why not pass that genius self down to our future generation….?And so why wouldn’t you want to be firing optimally to your best ability and even more?

I’m going to tell you how, and it’s free, environmentally enriched and rewarding!

What is it?…Aerobic training!!!

We all know what aerobic training is and how it can be performed. But do we know what is happening in our brain when aerobic training is being facilitated?

Ill let you in on a not so so secret.

Aerobic training enhances Neurogenesis!                                                                                                                          Neurogenesis is the formation of new nerve cells. YES!, when you train aerobically you are growing mature neurones into important regions of your brain(Hippocampus, Entorhinal cortex, dentate gyrus) these brain regions play key roles in memory,and reducing the risk of depression, anxiety and alzheimer’s. You can say that aerobic training is an antidepressant in it’s own right.

Brain derived neurotrophic factors BDNF.                                                                                                                            Aerobic training enhances BDNF. BDNF is responsible for the survival of existing neurones and also encouraging new neurones. aerobic training + BDNF = new neurones!

Aerobic training increases stress robustness.                                                                                                                      Exercise exposures are body to stress, yes stress! but this is good. Aerobic training circulates glucocorticoid catecholamines (stress hormones) that primes innate immunity, and helps us deal with stress better on a day to day basis. While also calming are amygdala, which is our emotional centre in our brain.

Have I tantalized you into engaging in some aerobic training?

As you can see, the above is only a brief on the countless benefits aerobic training has on your brain.

BUT, please make sure your health and musculosketeal needs are in check before hitting the pavement. And don’t go running a marathon in your first session.

Happy Brains peeps.

James 🙂