The protective role of exercise against age-related neurodegeneration

Ageing Res Rev. 2022 Feb;74:101543. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2021.101543. Epub 2021 Dec 17.


Endurance exercise is a widely accessible, low-cost intervention with a variety of benefits to multiple organ systems. Exercise improves multiple indices of physical performance and stimulates pronounced health benefits reducing a range of pathologies including metabolic, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative disorders. Endurance exercise delays brain aging, preserves memory and cognition, and improves symptoms of neurodegenerative pathologies like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and various ataxias. Potential mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of exercise include neuronal survival and plasticity, neurogenesis, epigenetic modifications, angiogenesis, autophagy, and the synthesis and release of neurotrophins and cytokines. In this review, we discuss shared benefits and molecular pathways driving the protective effects of endurance exercise on various neurodegenerative diseases in animal models and in humans.

Keywords: Exercise; Mitochondria; Muscle; Neurodegeneration; Proteinopathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Animals
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease*
  • Parkinson Disease*