Exercise and the Brain

Piver, Rachael
The purpose of this study is to explore the effects of physical exercise on an individual's mood and cognition, and to explain how physical activity can either help or hinder these mental states. This is examined through a discussion of research on how different levels of exertion and types of exercise effect humans' and other animals' brain chemistry. I will discuss how physical exercise affects specific areas of the brain as well as the neurotransmitters that are most prominently utilized and depleted. Serotonin and Dopamine are neurotransmitters that affect mood, and have been shown to increase with certain levels of exercise. Low levels of these neurotransmitters have been linked to depression and other mental disorders and now exercise is being used as a treatment for depression. I will explore BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein which assists in the maintenance of healthy neurons as well as promoting neural growth. Exercise has been linked to increases of BDNF in subjects' brains, which shows promise in increasing cognition and combating neurodegenerative diseases. The intended result of this study is to gain insight into the connection between the brain's chemistry and its correlation with exercise.
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University of Wyoming Libraries