The advantage of experience with the Space Station, and astronauts remaining for months up there, is that we now have some clue as to the health hazards of space. Over millions of years we and our forebears…and I am going back literally millions of years, not just a few hundred thousand, have adapted to this world! To give some perspective…the use of fire by humans… and the ability to cook and use heat for warmth, protection…is on the outside, perhaps only 300 to 400 thousand years ago. (Remember our kind of societal civilization going way back to Pharaohs is only some 10,000 years!) That is a drop in the evolutionary time span. Adaptation to this planet means first of all to gravity. Then fine tune that with temperature, meaning climate, ice ages, the ebb and flow of continents and migration. But gravity or the lack of it up there in Space Stations, is integral! This means that compensation has to take place up there in Space. Serious exercise regimens are part of their daily routine and even those are really insufficient! Both physical exercise and strength training are important and especially for our mitochondrial health. Our cognitive well being and nervous systems are dependent, and muscle mass deteriorates. A gene CDK5Rap1 is negatively impacted…and our mitochondrial health similarly! Leg Activity Important Earth & Space!
Its our evolutionary adaptation to the use of gravity for our health! Movement and exercise boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor which enhances and even rejuvenates muscle and brain tissue. A recent study published by the Frontiers in Neuroscience. The press release to be found in the following Dr. Mercola link (link), shows, as lead author Dr. Raffaella Adami points out, that neurological health is as dependent on signals from our large leg muscles as it is on signals from our brain to our muscles!
A two way street as he aptly concludes! The authors of the study note that both astronauts and patients affected by chronic movement-limiting pathologies face impairment in muscle and/or brain performance. Leg Activity Important Earth & Space!
They also make the point in no uncertain terms, that increased patient survival expectations (particularly those who are bedbound…and I have a friend who has been in that category for some two months now…and can see the cerebral deterioration), and longer stays in space by astronauts, may result in prolonged motor deprivation and the consequential pathological effects! They continue, (and this site has really concentrated on the importance of Stem Cells and how this really is the key to not only Health but real Longevity), and point out that severe movement limitation influences not only motor and metabolic systems, but also the nervous system, altering neurogenesis and the interaction between motoneurons and muscle cells. They significantly point out that little information is yet available about the effect of prolonged muscle disuse on neural stem cells characteristics, and that their in vitro study aims to fill this gap by focusing on the biological and molecular properties of neural stem cells or NSCs….and according to the press release this finding “fundamentally alters brain and nervous system medicine, and gives doctors new clues as to why patients with motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy and other neurological diseases, often decline rapidly when their movement becomes limited.”
A key factor is how exercise affects brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, which is critical for both muscles and brain! Exercise initially stimulates key body protein production called kFNDC5 that in turn triggers BDNF, that is so beneficial for both brain and muscle. What happens is that existing brain cells are protected and the brain stem cells are activated to convert into new neurons….a process called neurogenesis. This is especially important in the memory area or hippocampus of the brain. But an added plus…BDNF in the neuromuscular system...and we all posssess that!..BDNF protects the neuromotor, a critical element of our muscle, from degradation. This is, to use the venacular of Dr. Mercola…like an engine without an ignition, and neuromotor degradation is intregal to the explanation of age related muscle atrophy. All this demonstrates the importance of exercise and its beneficial effects on the brain and muscle. That is one reason age can in part be arrested or even somewhat reversed using this technique, and also is a great fighter against Alzheimer’s Disease.
But exercise, and by that I include strength training at least once a week…preferably to muscle exhaustion, and this site has long discussed the immense cardio and general benefits. Now to take the advice above, make sure that leg presses are well and truly central to that concept! But a quick summary: Exercise helps normalize insulin levels. Improves actual physical blood flow to the brain. Exercise also increases another positive brain protein called noggin…good word!…also helps feel good hormones including endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, glutamate and GABA. Definiately after a workout one feels much better! Leg Activity Important Earth & Space!