The Long Run: Neuroprotective Effects of Physical Exercise on Adult Neurogenesis from Youth to Old Age

Author(s): Daniele Saraulli, Marco Costanzi, Valentina Mastrorilli, Stefano Farioli-Vecchioli*

Journal Name: Current Neuropharmacology

Volume 15 , Issue 4 , 2017

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Graphical Abstract:


Background: The rapid lengthening of life expectancy has raised the problem of providing social programs to counteract the age-related cognitive decline in a growing number of older people. Physical activity stands among the most promising interventions aimed at brain wellbeing, because of its effective neuroprotective action and low social cost. The purpose of this review is to describe the neuroprotective role exerted by physical activity in different life stages. In particular, we focus on adult neurogenesis, a process which has proved being highly responsive to physical exercise and may represent a major factor of brain health over the lifespan.

Methods: The most recent literature related to the subject has been reviewed. The text has been divided into three main sections, addressing the effects of physical exercise during childhood/ adolescence, adulthood and aging, respectively. For each one, the most relevant studies, carried out on both human participants and rodent models, have been described.

Results: The data reviewed converge in indicating that physical activity exerts a positive effect on brain functioning throughout the lifespan. However, uncertainty remains about the magnitude of the effect and its biological underpinnings. Cellular and synaptic plasticity provided by adult neurogenesis are highly probable mediators, but the mechanism for their action has yet to be conclusively established.

Conclusion: Despite alternative mechanisms of action are currently debated, age-appropriate physical activity programs may constitute a large-scale, relatively inexpensive and powerful approach to dampen the individual and social impact of age-related cognitive decline.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, aging, Alzheimer's disease, cognitive and brain reserve, depression, hippocampus, physical exercise, stress disorders, traumatic brain injury.

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Article Details

Year: 2017
Published on: 11 April, 2017
Page: [519 - 533]
Pages: 15
DOI: 10.2174/1570159X14666160412150223
Price: $65

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