By Karolina Kozlova, PT, DPT
Neurogenesis is a process by which new neurons are formed in the brain. It begins soon after conception and continues throughout fetal development and then through infancy and childhood until adolescence. Our brains have about 100 billion neurons when we are born but this network is refined over time and by adulthood, we have approximately 86 billion neurons – that’s still A LOT!
For years, it was thought that once a brain was mature, neurogenesis stopped, and no new neurons could be formed. But now the answer might be….maybe? With research, it seems that neurogenesis might be possible for adults which leads to HOPE…new treatments for individuals with neurological insult and also for the healthy aging. How EXCITING is it that we have the ability to re-grow our own brain cells?
With neurogenesis, our brain produces a growth hormone called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). In order to stimulate production of this hormone, our bodies have to do two things:
- Engage in physical activity (specifically aerobic), and
- Take a supplement Omega-3 DHA
By performing exercise, we can increase the size of our hippocampus (area of the brain involved with regulating learning and memory) and thus improve our memory!
Aerobic exercise is NEUROPROTECTIVE! So, starting an exercise regime can help not only augment brain volume but also enhance cognition. By engaging in physical activity, YOU can help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and potentially slow down dementia. So, go outside, the weather should be nice, but please stay safe and wear a mask (if appropriate)!