Exercise In Early Life Helps Promote Healthy Brain, Metabolism

First Posted: Dec 30, 2015 12:09 AM EST

Exercise in early may help alter gut microbiome in such a way that it promotes a healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime. The findings are published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology.

"Exercise affects many aspects of health, both metabolic and mental, and people are only now starting to look at the plasticity of these gut microbes," said senior study author Monika Fleshner, a professor in CU-Boulder's Department of Integrative Physiology, in a news release. "That is one of the novel aspects of this research."

Shortly after birth, microbes are responsible for the vital development of our immune system and various neural functions. In fact, they can even add as many as 5 million genes to an individual's genetic profile--harboring incredible power that influences certain aspects of human physiology.

During the study, researchers examined juvenile rats and how behaviors influenced their microbes. Findings revealed that those that voluntarily exercised every day developed a more beneficial microbial structure, including the expansion of probiotic bacterial species in their gut when compared to both their sedentary counterparts and adult rats--even when the adult rats exercised well.

"Future research on this microbial ecosystem will hone in on how these microbes influence brain function in a long-lasting way," said lead study author Agniezka Mika, a graduate researcher in CU-Boulder's Department of Integrative Physiology.

Next, the researchers hope to explore ways to encourage innovative microbe plasticity in adults.

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