Does exercise reduce brain oxidative stress? A systematic review

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Aug;23(4):e202-12. doi: 10.1111/sms.12065. Epub 2013 Mar 15.


The aim of the present systematic review was to investigate the influence of different exercise programs on brain oxidative stress. A search of the literature was conducted up to 1 December 2012 across five databases: PUBMED, SCOPUS, SPORTS DISCUS, Web of Science, and The Cochrane Library. The search strategy used in the electronic databases mentioned was established as: (swim* OR exercise OR training) AND ("oxidative stress" AND brain) for each database. A methodological quality assessment valuation/estimation was additionally carried out in the final sample of studies. Of 1553 potentially eligible papers, 19 were included after inclusion and exclusion criteria. The methodological quality assessment showed a total score in the Quality Index between 40% and 80%, with a mean quality of 56.8%. Overall, regular moderate aerobic exercise appears to promote antioxidant capacity on brain. In contrast, anaerobic or high-intensity exercise, aerobic-exhausted exercise, or the combination of both types of training could deteriorate the antioxidant response. Future investigations should be focused on establishing a standardized exercise protocol, depending on the exercise metabolism wanted to test, which could enhance the objective knowledge in this topic.

Keywords: aerobic exercise; anaerobic exercise; brain; enzymatic activity; exercise protocol; oxidative stress; physical extenuation; rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Rats