Brains become more 'plastic' after exercise

By / 27th of October, 2014

New research has found that memory and motor skills are increased after just thirty minutes of exercise.

Neuroscientists from the University of Adelaide in South Australia studied the brain patterns of healthy adults immediately after a half an hour of exercise and again 15 minutes later to find it had positives effects on brain function and ‘plasticity’.

“The more ‘plastic’ the brain becomes, the more it’s able to reorganise itself, modifying the number and strength of connections between nerve cells and different brain areas,” said Associate Professor Michael Ridding from the University of Adelaide.

Past research has shown that regular physical activity can have positive effects on brain function and plasticity, but it was not known whether a stand-alone session of exercise would also have similar positive effects.

“We now have evidence suggesting that it does,” Ridding said.

“This exercise-related change in the brain may, in part, explain why physical activity has a positive effect on memory and higher-level functions."

There is now mounting evidence that engaging in aerobic exercise positively influences brain function in many ways – at cellular and molecular levels, as well as in the brain's architecture.

“Although this was a small sample group, it helps us to better understand the overall picture of how exercise influences the brain,

“We know that plasticity is also important for recovery from brain damage, so this opens up potential therapeutic avenues for patients,

“Further research will be required to see what the possible long-term benefits could be for patients as well as healthy people,” he said.

Key contacts

Associate Professor Michael Ridding Robinson Research Institute University of Adelaide
61 08 8313 7592 michael.ridding@adelaide.edu.au www.adelaide.edu.au