As a sedentary lifestyle deforms the brain

We often hear the phrase "sedentary lifestyle" in a negative context, it is referred to as the cause of poor well-being or even the occurrence of the disease. But why, in reality, a sedentary lifestyle is so harmful? I recently stumbled upon an article that made things clear to me.

It is known that physical activity can constructively affect the state of the brain, stimulating the formation of new cells and inducing other changes. There are new studies showing that immobility can also cause changes in the brain, deforming certain neurons. And this affects not only the brain but the heart.


These data were obtained in the course of the study, which was conducted on rats, but, according to scientists, is likely to have implications for people. These results may help explain, in part, why a sedentary lifestyle is hurting the state of our body.

If you are interested in details of the study, their you'll find below, but not to bore you with the details, I will tell you about its essence.

Published in The Journal of Comparative Neurology experimental results show that lack of physical activity deforms neurons in the brain. This division is responsible for the sympathetic nervous system, which, among other things, controls blood pressure by altering the degree of narrowing of the blood vessels. The test group of rats, which for weeks has been deprived of the possibility actively to move, in the neurons of the brain has a huge number of new branches. As a result, neurons are capable of so much more irritating the sympathetic nervous system, disrupting the balance in her work and thereby potentially causing an increase in blood pressure and contributing to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Of course, rats are not people, and it is a small, short-term study. But one conclusion is clear: a sedentary lifestyle has extensive physiological effects.

It seems to me that after weeks spent in the cold, which, unfortunately, is not my element and greatly limits my exposure to the outdoors and do my activity, I feel like after the experiment. And you can do this experiment your personal conclusions: lack of exercise tells negatively on the mood and General health.

20 years ago most scientists believed that brain structure is finally fixed with the onset of adulthood, that is, your brain can no longer create new cells to change the form of those which exist, or any other way to physically change the state of your brain after adolescence. But in recent years, neurological studies have shown that the brain retains plasticity, or the ability to change throughout our lives. And, according to the scientists, especially effective for this physical exercise.

However, virtually nothing was known about whether lack of physical activity to influence the transformation of the structure of the brain, and if so, what the consequences might be. So, for the study, details of which were recently published in The Journal of Comparative Neurology, scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine and other institutions have taken a dozen rats. Half of them they were put in cages with rotating wheels, in which animals could at any time get. Rats love to run, and they ran about three miles a day in their wheels. The remaining rats were placed in cages without wheels, and were forced to lead a "sedentary lifestyle".

After nearly three months of the experiment the animals were injected a special dye that colors certain neurons in the brain. Thus, scientists wanted to mark neurons in the Rostral ventromedial division of the medulla oblongata of animals — an uncharted part of the brain that controls breathing and other unconscious activities necessary for our existence.

Ventromedial Rostral Department of an oblong brain controls the sympathetic nervous system of the body, which, among others, continually controls blood pressure by altering the degree of narrowing of the blood vessels. Although most of the scientific findings related to the Rostral ventromedial division of the medulla oblongata, were made as a result of experiments involving animals, imaging studies in humans suggest that we have the same area of the brain, and it works similarly.

A well-regulated sympathetic nervous system in a timely manner causes the extension or contraction of the blood vessels, allowing proper blood flow, so you can, say, run away from the robber or get up from your office chair without falling while in a swoon. But excessive response of the sympathetic nervous system causes the problem, according to Patrick Mueller, associate Professor of physiology in Wayne state University who oversaw the new study. According to him, the latest scientific experiments show that the "hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system contributes to cardiovascular disease, causing blood vessels to constrict too much, too little or too often, which leads to increased blood pressure and cardiovascular damage."

Scientists suggest that the sympathetic nervous system starts to respond erratically and dangerously, if it receives too many messages (possibly distorted) from neurons in the Rostral ventrolateral the division of the medulla oblongata.

And as a result, when the researchers looked inside the brain of their rats after the animals had been active or sedentary for 12 weeks, they found noticeable differences between the two groups in the form of some of the neurons in this brain region.

Using a computer digitizing program to recreate the inside of the animal brain, the researchers found that neurons in the brains of the running rats were the same in form as the beginning of the study, and functioned normally. But in many of the neurons in the brain of rats, leading a sedentary lifestyle, a huge number of new antennae, so-called branches. These branches connect healthy neurons into the nervous system. But now these neurons had more branches than normal neurons, making them more sensitive to stimuli and apt to send erratic messages to the nervous system.

In fact, these neurons had changed in such a way that become much more irritating the sympathetic nervous system, potentially causing a rise in blood pressure and contributing to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

According to Dr. Mueller, this discovery is important because it deepens our understanding of how cellular level, inactivity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. But even more intriguing in the results of these studies is that stillness — like activity can modify the structure and function of the brain. published


P. S. And remember, only by changing their consumption — together we change the world! ©



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