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Daily Walking and a Four-Minute Daily Workout — A Winning Combo Most People Can Do While exercise is primarily valued for its influence on physical health, strength and mobility, there's ample evidence showing physical exercise, especially strength training, is just as important for healthy brain and nervous system function. A number of studies, which I'll review below, have linked muscle strength, and leg strength in particular, to various cognitive benefits. This fascinating link was again demonstrated in a recent study1,2 published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, which shows that neurological health is as dependent on signals from your large leg muscles as it is on signals from your brain to your muscles. In other words, it's a two-way street, and neither "lane" is more important than the other. As noted by the authors: "Both astronauts and patients affected by chronic movement-limiting pathologies face impairment in muscle and/or brain performance. Increased patient survival expectations and the expected longer stays in space by astronauts may result in prolonged motor deprivation and consequent pathological effects. Severe movement limitation can influence not only the motor and metabolic systems but also the nervous system, altering neurogenesis and the interaction between motoneurons and muscle cells. Little information is yet available about the effect of prolonged muscle disuse on neural stem cells characteristics. Our in vitro study aims to fill this gap by focusing on the biological and molecular properties of neural stem cells (NSCs) … The overall results support the existence of a link between reduction of exercise and muscle disuse and metabolism in the brain and thus represent valuable new information that could clarify how circumstances such as the absence of load and the lack of movement that occurs in people with some neurological diseases, may affect the properties of NSCs and contribute to the negative manifestations of these conditions." The Importance of Leg Exercise for Brain and Nervous System Health According to the press release,3 the finding "fundamentally alters brain and nervous system medicine — giving doctors new clues as to why patients with motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy and other neurological diseases often rapidly decline when their movement becomes limited." In other words, whenever you're unable to perform load-bearing exercises, you not only lose muscle mass due to muscle atrophy, your body chemistry is impacted in such a way that your nervous system and brain also begin to deteriorate. To reach this conclusion, the researchers prevented mice from using their hind legs for 28 days. The animals could still use their front legs, however, and were able to eat and groom normally without getting stressed. At the end of 28 days, the sub-ventricular zone of the animals' brains was examined. This is an area of the brain responsible for the health of nerve cells. Remarkably, neural stem cells — undifferentiated stem cells that can develop into both neurons and other brain cells — had declined by 70 percent in the animals that had not used [...]