Running improves your memory, study suggests

Running improves your memory, study suggests
Photo: The Straits Times

A recent experiment proved that running gives your memory a boost. This is caused by the secretion of a special protein in the blood called cathepsin B.

US and German researchers found that after running, positive feelings are induced as cathepsin B is released through the muscles, and later travels to the brain.

The study, which can be found in a journal called "Cell Metabolism", was conducted on a group of mice, which were made to take a daily swim test in a Morris water maze that featured a small pool with a hidden platform for the mice to swim to.

Some of these mice were able to produce cathepsin B, while some weren't. In a few days' time, the mice were able to swim to the platform.

However, those able to produce cathepsin B were more efficient at recalling the position of it compared to the ones that were not able to.

"We also have converging evidence from our study that cathepsin B is upregulated in the blood by exercise for three species, namely mice, Rhesus monkeys and humans.

Moreover, in humans who exercise consistently for four months, better performance on complex recall tasks, such as drawing from memory, is correlated with increased cathepsin B levels," noted the study's primary author Henriette van Praag.

There are interesting facts about cathepsin B that were not included in the research. For instance, the protein is associated with cell death and tumours.

Additionally, some studies concluded a correlation with Alzheimer's disease as it forms amyloid plaque in the brain, while others have discovered its neuroprotective properties that negate this claim.

Despite the study's convincing results, Van Praag has noted that the different amounts of protein secreted in different people gives way for varying psychological effects.

"Overall, the message is that a consistently healthy lifestyle pays off. People often ask us, how long do you have to exercise, how many hours? The study supports that the more substantial changes occur with the maintenance of a long-term exercise regimes."

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