The benefits of exercise is well documented. The type of exercise you should perform, cardio, weight lifting, Zumba or Cross-Fit can be debated.
Finland scientists are reporting a clear distinction on what type of exercise is best for building brain cells. They gave rats strict exercise regimes and some of those rats developed brain cells more rapidly than others.
The enhanced rate of neurogenesis occurred with moderate aerobic exercise while strength training did not improve brain cell development. If this proves true in humans, a daily jog could prove better for your brain then weight-lifting sessions.
Neurogenesis is the growth and development of neurons in the brain which then helps the learning and memory forming process. This type of brain growth is most notable while still in the womb and continues through until it slows in adulthood.
Researchers from the University of Jyvaskyla split their rats into three groups with three different exercise programmes: moderate running, weight-lifting, and high-intensity interval training.
The cardio rats were given a treadmill, the weight-lifting rats were trained to climb a ladder with weights on their tails. The cardio rats showed significantly higher levels of neurogenesis versus the other groups.
Genetic predisposition to aerobic exercise did appear to have an effect on the results. The rats that were naturally suited to running showed higher level of neurogenesis.
While the exercise programs set up for the rats were similar to those that we use as humans there is no evidence that the effects will be the same in humans. The main researcher Miriam Nokia plans to continue to explore the benefits of aerobic exercise on the brain.