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Is anaerobic exercise bad for our brain?

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  • Is anaerobic exercise bad for our brain?

    I'm taking a "Brain Rules" class, studying how we learn and howthe brain works. Today, the instructor spoke to how exercise enhances the brain's ability to think. Specifically mentioned that aerobic exercise 3x a week raised cognitive and memory ability. Takes about 36 months for this improvement to occur. Reduces aging too. But, I asked him if anarobic exercise (intense workouts such as sprints, crossfit) would have the same benefits or more or less. He said studies show anaerobic destroys brain cells. Why? Lactic acid creates a lack of oxygen for the brain. We know that sprinting will spur on lactic acid. Does anybody have solid scientific evidence to debunk the notion that this may be true? I may stop anaerobic exercise to avoid building lactic acid which may short the brain of oxygen!

  • #2

    I can't point you to any debunking links but what a bunch of hogwash!

    First of all the lactic acid is concentrated in the muscle being taxed. As soon as the exertion ends adequate blood flow dilutes the lactic acid build up. I really doubt that lactic acid crosses the blood brain barrier and destroys brain cells.

    I would ask your instructor for references to the research he cited.


    • #3

      I second Dave. While I think I have read somewhere that lactic acid can sometimes cross the hematoencephalic barrier, blaming lactic acid for brain damage due to hypoxia seems pretty far fetched.

      If the above was true, I would expect to see clear patterns of cognitive or neurological issues amongst body builders, for example.

      In any case, it's your teacher who has the burden of proof to support his assertion. Asking to prove that something is not true can lead to all sorts of fantastic assertions held under the excuse of "it's true unless someone proves me wrong".

      “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
      "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
      "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull


      • #4

        I have to third what was said above, but add that you should tread carefully in asking him to back up his outlandish claim. i can see his logic, and that's all it was, he was rationalizing. It seems to make sense until you look deeper into it. It never does well to make a professor/teacher/boss/master feel dumb. So tread carefully.

        Say you want to know more, ask for reference, mention what SerialSinner said about how that conclusion would lead you to assume clear patterns of cognitive or neurological issues amongst body builders. Explain that you work out that way a lot and that's why the idea interests you.

        Or however you want to handle it, just tread carefully. And I would like to reiterate what they said above. It is hogwash. The burden is on him to prove his outlandish claim, not us to disprove it.


        • #5

          I have to add, that I genuinely want to see this evidence if it exists. I think it would be important for all of us to know if this is true. So please don't misread my tone above. I find this all fascinating.