The National Institute on Aging has just released a new study. In this study, researchers say they think they have found a substance in muscles that shows the connection between regular exercise and a sharp memory.
First, researchers looked at several mice who spent a lot of time on the exercise wheel. They found that the mice who exercised more had higher blood levels of a protein called cathepsin B than mice who did not exercise as much. The mice with higher levels of this protein performed better on memory tests than the less fit mice. In subsequent studies, researchers found the same correlation between exercise and higher levels of cathepsin B in monkeys and people.
Cathepsin B has previously been associated with cell death and some diseases. Now, researchers think that when we exercise, our muscles release the protein, and it may help to generate new cells and connections in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that plays the biggest role in memory.
Unfortunately, cathepsin B is also known to produce tumor cells and has been linked to the plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, researchers say that raising the protein levels artificially in people is probably not a good idea. They suggest raising your cathepsin levels naturally through a regular exercise routine.