Exercise training increases mitochondrial biogenesis in the brain
These findings suggest that exercise training increases brain mitochondrial biogenesis, which may have important implications, not only with regard to fatigue, but also with respect to various central nervous system diseases and age-related dementia that are often characterized by mitochondrial dysfunction.
Exercise training causes new mitochondria to grow in the muscles. Mitochondria are fascinating, almost parasitic cells within our cells that now act as “power plants” that use oxygen and glucose to produce ATP, the energy currency of the cell. Endurance gets better, since you are enabled to keep the muscles aerobically fuelled for longer. By the way it is not just endurance training that does this, Gibala just this year has shown that sprint training also causes mitochondrial biogenesis. An acute bout of high-intensity interval training increases the nuclear abundance of PGC-1α and activates mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle.
The adaptations are mainly in the muscles you are exercising but it is not just your muscles that need power. The brain has a massive demand for oxygen and glucose, even at rest. (We could get into the Perfect Health Diet here which recommends a basic level of glucose intake mainly from toxin free starch to provide the basic level glucose that the brain needs, so you do not need to break down protein to provide it)
Interesting too that the study used endurance exercise. I wonder what the findings would have been with resistance training? I reckon based on Gibala's work that sprints would give the same benefits.....maybe without the wear and tear of endurance work.
The press release adds more:
These findings suggest that exercise training increases the number of mitochondria in the brain much like it increases mitochondria in muscles. The study authors note that this increase in brain mitochondria may play a role in boosting exercise endurance by making the brain more resistant to fatigue, which can affect physical performance. They also suggest that this boost in brain mitochondria could have clinical implications for mental disorders, making exercise a potential treatment for psychiatric disorders, genetic disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Speaking as someone with a father who has dementia, the mention of that condition always makes me pay attention.