BORN TO RUN: THE IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE FOR THE BRAIN HEALTH

<p></p><p>ABSTRACT The evolutionary hypothesis of endurance running states that movement played a crucial role in the emergence of typically human anatomical features, as well as in the shaping and structure of the human brain. The close relationship between exercise and human evolution is evidenced by the fact that inactivity make us sick. Effectively, the human body, including the brain, has evolved to withstand extended periods of cardiovascular stress. Movement is so essential to the brain that regular physical activity is imperative for it to function properly. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise increases neuron proliferation, neurotrophic factors synthesis, gliogenesis, synaptogenesis, regulates neurotransmission and neuromodulation systems, and reduce systemic inflammation. All of these effects have a significant impact on improving mental health, reducing age-related gray matter decline, and improving cognitive functions. Thus, the purpose of this article is to present an update on the subject of physical exercise and mental health. Given the recent advances presented in this manuscript on the neurobiology of exercise and its therapeutic and economic potential for the general population, it is expected that future research that correlate basic studies with psychological variables and imaging studies may elucidate the mechanisms by which exercise improves brain health.</p><p></p>