Exercise Improves Brain Function In Obese Individuals

Exercise; New findings out of the University of Tübingen show that, on top of its benefits for metabolism, mood, and general health, exercise also improves brain function. In recent studies, researchers learned that obese and overweight individuals are prone to insulin resistance in the brain, where it provides information about current nutritional status, as well as the rest of the body. So researchers wanted to know whether; so exercise can improve insulin sensitivity in the brain and improve cognition in overweight individuals.

Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, to aid growth and improve strength, preventing aging, developing muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, improving health and also for enjoyment. Many individuals choose to exercise outdoors where they can congregate in groups, socialize, and enhance well-being.

Sedentary adults with overweight

In the current study, led by Dr. Stephanie Kullmann, 22 sedentary adults with overweight or obesity (an average BMI of 31) underwent two brain scans before and after an 8-week exercise intervention, including cycling and walking. Brain function was measure before and after using an insulin nasal spray to investigate insulin sensitivity of the brain. Participants were also assess for cognition, mood, and peripheral metabolism.

Even though the exercise intervention only result in a marginal weight loss; brain functions important for metabolism “normalized” only after 8-weeks. Exercise increase regional blood flow in areas of the brain important for motor control and reward processes; both of which depend on the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter for learning new motor skills; also in reward-related learning and this research shows that exercise significantly improves dopamine-related brain function.

Exercise Improves Brain Function

One area in particular, the striatum, had enhance sensitivity to insulin after the 8-weeks of exercise; so such that the brain response of a person with obesity after exercise training resemble the response of a person with normal-weight. Interestingly, the greater the improvement in brain function, the more belly fat a person lost during the course of the exercise intervention.

Behaviorally, participants report an improvement in mood and task switching; which is an indicator for improve executive function. “The bottom line is that exercise improves brain function”, said Kullmann. “And increasing insulin sensitivity in dopamine-related brain; so regions through exercise may help decrease the risk of a person to develop type 2 diabetes, along with the benefits for mood and cognition”.