We know that the brain retains plasticity, or the capacity to be reshaped, throughout our lifetimes. And that exercise is particularly adept at remodeling the brain, prompting the creation of new brain cells and other positive changes. I posted previously about the dangers of sedentary time (HERE).
Now it seems that inactivity can also remodel the brain. A study (Mischel et al. J Comp Neurol 2014) conducted in rats demonstrates that sedentary time changes the shape of certain neurons that significantly affect brain AND heart function.
After 3-month of resting, neurons in the brains of sedentary rats developed branches that made them likely to overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS directs blood vessels to widen or contract as needed to control the flow of blood. Overactivity of the SNS contributes to increasing blood pressure and possibly the development of heart disease.
All the more reason to get off your couch or chair and get moving! much love.
Mischel et al. Physical (in)activity-dependent structural plasticity in bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons of rat rostral ventrolateral medulla. J Comp Neurol. 2014 Feb 15;522(3):499-513. doi: 10.1002/cne.23464.
Reynolds, Gretchen. How Inactivity changes the Brain. Well blogs, NY Times. January 22, 2014.