exerciseApparently, it is commonly known that treadmill training can boost memory recall. Of course, scientists had a basic understanding of the relationship between proteins, exercise, and neuron growth, but they wanted to take a closer look.

And so, a new study—which has been published in the journal Cell Metabolism—investigates more closely how exercise can improve memory recall. These findings highlight there is a clear difference in levels of cognition between ordinary control mice and mice who lacked a protein known as cathepsin B.

The study was led by National Institute on Aging neuroscientist, Henriette van Praag, who says, “Cathepsin B has been studied mostly in relation to pathological conditions, such as cancer. But we wanted to know how it reacts to certain physiological conditions, particularly during exercise.”

The neuroscientist also comments that the investigation aimed to look at a wider scope of this process. He describes that they screened for any proteins that muscle tissue might secrete and be transported to the brain. In layman’s terms, researchers determined that this protein can be traced, directly, from the muscles to the brain; and it is elevated during exercise.

The experiment examined both sets of mice over a week. Each mouse was given a swim test every day through the Morris water maze. This is a small pool in which each mouse would have to learn to swim to a platform hidden just below the surface of the water. After just a few days of practice, normal mice would eventually learn how to find the platform.

However, when both groups were set on a run before the daily swim test, the normal mice were better able to recall the platform’s location; the mice lacking in cathespin B had trouble remembering.

van Praag goes on to say, “We also have converging evidence from our study that cathepsin B is upregulated in blood by exercise for three species — mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans. Moreover, in humans who exercise consistently for four months, better performance on complex recall tasks, such as drawing from memory, is correlated with increased cathepsin B levels.”

Finally, van Praag notes, “Overall, the message is that a consistently healthy lifestyle pays off. People often ask us, how long do you have to exercise, how many hours? The study supports that the more substantial changes occur with the maintenance of a long-term exercise regimen