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Men who exercise regularly enjoy better cardiovascular health, stronger muscles and leaner body weight. New research indicates they also increase the amount of testosterone in their brain. Learn why that’s important… Read more

 

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(Healthy) Men Really Do Have Sex on the Brain!


Scientists have known for years that regular exercise improves a manís memory and thinking ability. Now there’s research data that helps explain why. Right after a good workout, testosterone surges into a man’s brain, and this all-important sex hormone is key to the growth of new brain cells.

 

A team of investigators at Rockefeller University in New York took healthy young male rats and, in half of them, performed surgical castration to stop genital production of testosterone.  (The others had a “mock” surgery - to ensure that all the animals had experienced comparable trauma.) Separately, and at random, some of the total rat population was injected with a drug that keeps testosterone from binding to brain receptors. So even if these rats produced testosterone in their testes, the hormone could not have any effect on their brain.

 

Next, some of the rats jogged on treadmills for hours each day while others were allowed to just loaf around inside their cages. Then, after two weeks, the scientists examined the brains of all the rats. Several important findings emerged:


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■ The running rats had a lot more DHT (dihydrotestosterone) – a testosterone derivative – in their brain tissue. This was true even for the surgically castrated rats. So the scientists concluded that it had to be exercise that had promoted the production of the hormone.

 

■ The running rats also had many more new brain cells in their hippocampus, a portion of the brain that is crucial for short- and long-term memory. 

 

■ Unexpectedly, the rats that had been injected with the testosterone brain-blocker, even non-castrated ones, did not show evidence of new brain cell production. Regardless of whether they had exercised on the treadmill, their brains had not benefited from the workout.

 

Basically, the research team concluded that exercise promotes the production of DHT. And DHT helps create new brain cells.

 

For the rats (and theoretically for human males, too) even mild to moderate exercise appears to boost testosterone production enough to boost cognitive function. The workout in this experiment was equivalent to jogging at a pace where you can maintain conversation. “That’s achievable for most people,” says principal investigator Bruce S. McEwen, PhD.  “And the evidence suggests it will improve brain health.”

 

What about females, who produce very little brain testosterone? Do they benefit less from exercise than males? “It’s unlikely,” says Dr. McEwen. “In rats, females exercise more than males. They’ll run for hours and keep running, even when they’re old.” In these general rat populations, new brain cell production is plentiful in old female brains.


“It’s probable that estrogen plays a role,” argues Dr. McEwen. In other words, what testosterone does for males brains, estrogen does for female brains.

 

 

 

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