The exercise benefit, explained

Exercise just works. I’ve often said that it seems to reset the brain at a fundamental, system-wide level, kind of like re-initializing a computer. 

Now researchers are starting to understand what happens inside the brain when we are pushed to perform at a higher level of exercise than we might normally engage in. From Medscape:

Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who exercise on a stationary tandem bicycle with a healthy partner during a single 40-minute session experience a 35% improvement in motor function and increased brain activation similar to that found with levodopa treatment, new research shows.


The study, by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, found that maintaining a steady rate of 80 to 90 revolutions per minute (rpm) on the bicycle not only improved function in lower extremities but also in upper extremities.


I don’t want to reprint the entire article, but this quote resonated for me:


The researchers surmise that the exercise may facilitate central motor control processes in Parkinson’s patients. “For lack of a better word, we may be ‘overdriving’ the central nervous system by providing an increase in the quantity and quality of sensory information provided to the patient,” said Dr. Alberts.