Influence of physical activity on cognitive functions - Potential mechanisms and benefits
Keywordsphysical activity, cognitive function, learning, neurogenesis
Background and Study Aim. The results of many research indicate that systematic physical activity has also positive effect on functions of the central nervous system. For example, improvement of the cognitive functions level, such as memory and learning, under the influence of systematic physical training has been demonstrated. The positive effect of physical activity on the central nervous system is especially visible and widely described with regard to elderly people, who develop many adverse remodeling changes in the structure of the brain. However, particularly interesting are the studies which show that also among young people a positive effect of physical activity on cognitive processes is observed. Currently, several hypotheses are proposed, presenting potential mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of physical activity on the central nervous system. The first hypothesis assumes the beneficial effect of physical activity on the expression of hippocampal genes related to synaptic plasticity. The second hypothesis assumes that physical effort per se is an inducer of the secretion of the growth factors (e.g., BDNF, IGF-1), which have a trophic effect on the nervous system. In addition, the results of the latest scientific studies indicate that the positive effect of physical activity on the central nervous system may be due to the action of phospholipase (Gpld-1), released to the bloodstream from the liver under the influence of physical exercise. This work indicates that due to the influence on cognitive functions, physical activity is absolutely essential to both elderly and young people population.
Conclusions. It seems necessary to educate both young and elderly people that the proper level of physical activity is a key factor allowing to maintain both physical and mental health at an appropriate, desirable level.
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