Exercise and the brain: something to chew on

Trends Neurosci. 2009 May;32(5):283-90. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2008.12.007. Epub 2009 Apr 6.


Evidence is accumulating that exercise has profound benefits for brain function. Physical activity improves learning and memory in humans and animals. Moreover, an active lifestyle might prevent or delay loss of cognitive function with aging or neurodegenerative disease. Recent research indicates that the effects of exercise on the brain can be enhanced by concurrent consumption of natural products such as omega fatty acids or plant polyphenols. The potential synergy between diet and exercise could involve common cellular pathways important for neurogenesis, cell survival, synaptic plasticity and vascular function. Optimal maintenance of brain health might depend on exercise and intake of natural products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes / drug effects
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Polyphenols
  • Sex Factors


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols