10/15/2013 08:44 am ET

Irisin Molecule Could Help Explain Why Exercise Is Good For The Brain


It's no secret that exercise is not just good for your body, but also the mind. Now, scientists have pinpointed why working out holds these brain benefits.

The findings, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, show that endurance exercise seems to lead to the production of a molecule called irisin. Irisin boosts the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a growth factor that may play a role in protecting against symptoms of neurological diseases.

Indeed, researchers found that when they raised irisin levels in the blood of mice, there was activation of memory- and learning-related genes.

"Our results indicate that FNDC5/irisin has the ability control a very important neuroprotective pathway in the brain," study researcher Dr. Bruce Spiegelman, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, said in a statement.

Of course, the benefits of exercise can be seen all throughout the body. Check out this guide to what happens to your body when you exercise, and click through the slideshow below for more ways exercise is good for your brain:


Exercise Does A Brain Good
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