NYT – How Inactivity Changes the Brain

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 22, 2014

Grethen Reynolds: ”A number of studies have shown that exercise can remodel the brain by prompting the creation of new brain cells and inducing other changes. Now it appears that inactivity, too, can remodel the brain, according to a notable new report. The study, [see below] which was conducted in rats but likely has implications for people too, the researchers say, found that being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in ways that significantly affect not just the brain but the heart as well. The findings may help to explain, in part, why a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for us.”

Physical (in)activity-dependent structural plasticity in bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons of rat rostral ventrolateral medulla. Mischel NA, Llewellyn-Smith IJ, Mueller PJ. J Comp Neurol. 2014 Feb 15;522(3):499-513. doi: 10.1002/cne.23464. ”Increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system is thought to play a role in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. Recent work has shown that physical inactivity versus activity alters neuronal structure in brain regions associated with cardiovascular regulation. Our physiological studies suggest that neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) are more responsive to excitation in sedentary versus physically active animals…These inactivity-related structural and functional changes may enhance the overall sensitivity of RVLM neurons to excitatory stimuli and contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in sedentary individuals.”

See also:  The health hazards of sitting by Bonnie Berkowitz and Patterson Clark, Published: Jan. 20, 2014: We know sitting too much is bad, and most of us intuitively feel a little guilty after a long TV binge. But what exactly goes wrong in our bodies when we park ourselves for nearly eight hours per day, the average for a U.S. adult? Many things, say four experts, who detailed a chain of problems from head to toe. Download a pdf poster of this graphic.”

Posted in Health Care, Medicine

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