Researchers from Japan’s University of Tsukuba recently published an interesting article further supporting the benefits of exercise for brain health.

In their study (published in the most recent issue of The Journal of Physiology), exercising rats had significant decreases of glycogen in the brain following a single bout of exercise.  However, if these rats were allowed to eat right afterward, the glycogen levels not only returned to baseline, they surpassed those baseline levels.  It might seem discouraging to learn that after 24 hours, the glycogen levels decreased to pre-exercise levels.

However, if these rats participated in a four week running program, the post-exercise levels began to become the new baseline.  Said differently, the baseline glycogen levels significantly increased with consistent participation in a running program!

Hideaki Soya, lead researcher of this study, wonders if this “may be a key mechanism underlying exercise-enhanced cognitive function . . . it is tempting to suggest that increased storage and utility of brain glycogen in the cortex and hippocampus might be involved in the development” of improved brain function.

So, re-read this post and drink some chocolate milk after your next workout!

(Originally read in the NY Times, 2/22/2012)