GOTTINGEN, Germany, Dec. 12 (UPI) — Physical exercise has many health benefits, but researchers in Germany have discovered a link between exercise and improved recovery after stroke.
A recent study by Dr. Evgenia Kalogeraki of the Prof. Dr. Siegrid Lowel laboratory at Georg-August University in Gottingen, Germany examined the effects of exercise on mice in relation to aging and strokes.
Researchers focused on the brain’s ability to recover and reorganize itself after a stroke, which then aids in the recovery of speech, paralysis and memory loss many stroke patients experience.
The study, published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, tested visual plasticity, the ability to change the way the brain reacts to certain stimuli, in laboratory mice.
The researchers looked at the ability of the mice to compensate when the visual input of one eye is compromised for a certain time period and whether the part of the brain that processes visual information is then activated by the other eye.
This ability to change eye dominance is an age-related quality and is normally greatly reduced as we age.
Researchers found that regular exercise in older mice allowed them to retain the ability to maintain ocular dominance plasticity after a stroke compared to mice who did not regularly exercise.
“We found that mice with free access to a running wheel throughout their life preserved a more juvenile brain into adulthood and were able to prevent the negative effects of a stroke,” Kalogeraki said, in a news release.
The study not only showed a slowing of the aging process in the brains of the mice but also an improved recovery in mice that suffered a stroke.
“We also found that mice with no previous access to a running wheel showed an equally positive recovery if voluntary exercise started after a stroke had occurred,” Dr. Justyna Pielecka-Fortuna, co-author of the study, said in a news release.
The findings emphasize the importance of regular physical exercise and its benefits on overall health.
“We now hope to study the mechanisms underlying exercise-mediated activity changes in the brain, to ultimately better guide studies in humans,” Kalogeraki said in a news release.