Exercising regularly increases the number of mitochondria in muscle cells which, in turn, results in enhanced strength or endurance, research has already shown.
Exercise is also known to yield a number of positive mental effects, such as relieving depression and improving memory. However, researchers were not able to describe the mechanism behind these mental effects till now.
Now, researchers at the University of South Carolina have discovered that regular exercise increases mitochondria in the brain as well, making it a potential treatment for psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.
The researchers assigned mice to either an exercise group, which ran on an inclined treadmill six days a week for an hour, or to a sedentary group.
After eight weeks, the researchers examined brain and muscle tissue from some of the mice in each group to test for signs of increases in mitochondria.
The results showed that mice in the exercise group had increased mitochondria in their muscle tissue compared to mice in the sedentary group.
They also found that the exercising mice showed several positive markers of mitochondria increase in the brain.
The findings suggest that exercise training increases the number of mitochondria in the brain just like it increases mitochondria in muscles.
The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology.