Get Fit with Exercise in a Pill

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BrainThere are many benefits, both physical and psychological, that come from a good workout. Exercise increases brain function, boosts memory, improves learning skills and reduces the effects of aging on cognitive thought. Some of the latest science news is about the progress scientists are making at identifying the cause of these positive results. In the future, getting the same benefits and the same feeling of satisfaction may be as simple as popping a pill.

Cell biologists and neuroscientists from Michigan Medical Center and the University of Michigan collaborated to find the secret to what causes these positive effects. They focused on FNDC5, a protein that muscles secrete during exercise. Mice were allowed to run on a wheel for thirty days and observed for the production of FNDC5. Once the mice started producing the protein, BDNF, a protein in the brain, began to rise. The latter protein is responsible for making connections between the brain’s nerves to accommodate memory and learning. The researchers followed these observations by preparing injections of FNDC5 to give mice that had not been exercising. This led to an increase in the BDNF protein, without their having exercised to produce it.

The results of the study were promising, showing that a natural substance that was introduced into the bloodstream had the potential to mimic the same effects that endurance exercise is known to have on the brain. While this is only the first step in the development of a pill that will have the ability to keep the mind as sharp as a regular workout, the implications are impressive.

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