Category: Science

Aerobic Exercise

Growth Hormone For Your Brain – Now Available Without a Prescription!

We’ve all come to accept the notion that our brain will continue to shrink as we age. And nowhere is this decline more impactful than in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, one of the primary brain areas that’s first to decline in Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers measuring the size of the hippocampus using MRI scans demonstrate a clear correlation between shrinkage of the hippocampus and declining cognitive function. So, at least as it relates to the hippocampus, size does matter.

Challenging the status quo notion that loss of hippocampal function is inevitable is new and exciting research showing that we have the potential to actually grow new cells in this vitally important area of the brain, expanding the hippocampus in size and enhancing memory function.

The growth of new cells in the brain, neurogenesis, is enhanced under the influence of a specific protein called BDNF. And while there is no pharmaceutical approach to increasing BDNF, animal research has long recognized that aerobic exercise causes a robust increase in BDNF levels and as a consequence increases both the growth of new cells in the hippocampus as well as increase in memory.

But while the animal research has long confirmed the relationship between aerobic exercise and the growth of new brain cells, this relationship has been only recently demonstrated to occur in humans.

Neuroscientist Kirk Erikson and his research team at the University of Pittsburgh publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science studied a group of 120 adults over a one-year span. Half the group was given a stretching program to perform 3 times each week while the other half engaged in 3 days of aerobics.

After one year, the 2 groups were evaluated looking at 3 parameters. First, using MRI scans, the change in size of the hippocampus was calculated. Second, serum measurements before and after the trial were measured. And finally, the study actually measured memory function at the beginning and end of the trial.

The results were breathtaking. While the group doing the stretching program manifested a decline in memory, hippocampal size and BDNF levels, the aerobics group showed not only improvement in memory, but an actual increase in the size of the hippocampus accompanied by an increase in their blood levels of BDNF. The authors concluded:

These results clearly indicate that aerobic exercise is neuroprotective and that starting an exercise regimen later in life is not futile for either enhancing cognition or augmenting brain volume.

What’s more, research just published several weeks ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that blood levels of BDNF almost perfectly predict future risk for developing dementia as long as 10 years in the future.

The results of these studies have huge implications. There is no effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and yet, simple aerobic exercise can turn on the genetic machinery to manufacture BDNF, the brain’s “growth hormone,” creating new neurons in the brain’s memory center and actually improving memory. Despite the lack of any pharmaceutical development to enhance this process, you have direct control of your BDNF levels and thus the fate of your brain.

You can increase your BDNF levels and enhance the growth of new brain cells and memory. Here’s how:

  • Engage in regular aerobic exercise. I recommend 20 minutes per day, 6 days each week. A good target heart rate is around 180 minus your age. Your specific target rate will depend on your level of fitness as well as medications you may be taking.
  • The omega-3 DHA, like aerobic exercise, has been shown to activate the genes that turn on BDNF production. So take a supplement that contains DHA. DHA is available in fish oils as well as algae-derived (suitable for vegetarians). While krill oil is popular, the DHA content is typically only 10% of fish or algae-based products.

For more information, order your copy of Grain Brain today and join Dr. Perlmutter’s email list.

  • Lynn Dell

    Thanks for these reminders. Aerobic exercise is important for many reasons. For those of us who are aging, maintaining skeletal muscle mass is also crucial for overlapping and other reasons. This article on resistance training and aerobic exercise is interesting. The focus here is on the timing and duration of exercise for utilization of stored body fat, and claims aerobic exercise needs to last longer than 30 minutes and be preceded by weight training for maximum use of stored body fat — http://www.umich.edu/~medfit/resistancetraining/timingiseverything101705.html

  • Shelly St Martin

    Are rhere any studies showing increased bdnf protein in aging 50+ adults who return to school and /or learn a completely newcactivity?

  • fredhahn


    Does it show that aerobic exercise causes the benefits OR exercise (large muscle activity) in general? My guess is that resistance training would cause the same benefits.

    • Cindy

      Yes, I’m wondering the same thing.

  • Andrea

    This is wonderful information. I am slender, eat the recommended diet and supplements, and try to keep my blood glucose down with regular walking/hiking every day, caring for horses, and high-energy forms of riding. But I have a very stubborn form of exercise-induced asthma, so aerobic exercise is not going to happen for me. Is there any data suggesting alternatives could be helpful in avoiding Alzheimer’s?

  • Reva

    I am 82 years of age and have Parkinsons. I started your program on
    Jan.1, 2014 and have lost 7 pounds. I am 5’5″ tall and now weigh 114 lbs. I exercise daily at a gym and walk 20 minutes per day. What can I do to gain weight on this program or at least stop losing? Please advise…thank you.

  • Pingback: How does exercise protect your brain? | Samantha Sookman()

  • john mazur

    I downloaded the audio book from ITunes but got no pdf. Where can I get the pdf mentioned in the book?

  • Pingback: Growth Hormone For Your Brain – Now Available Without a Prescription!()

  • Sandra Clagett

    This is great news! For the past three years I have been taking a 50 minute high energy class with interval training. I burn on average 350-400 calories a session. I wear a heart monitor. We do jumping jacks and dance the whole time. I take the class at 8:00 in the morning three days a week. Over the years my energy level and brain clarity has increased. My bones are strong and my balance is terrific. I’m a female, age 67, and I just love this class. You have confirmed what I have felt for the past couple of years. YEAH!!

    • David Perlmutter

      Sounds like you’re giving your brain a great workout!

  • HollyH

    I have been getting leg cramps at night since starting your program. I’ve eliminated gluten, rice, sugars and have been taking the supplements you recommended. I’ve added magnesium but I’m not getting much relieve. Why would these cramps start so suddenly with this diet and what can you recommend?

    • Denis

      cramps on the diet? Me too. Plenty hydration, Mg.Interferes with sleep a lot. Why? Anwers please

      • Rachael

        Are you consuming enough magnesium (preferably mag glycinate or malate, more bioavailable than the others)? Mag deficiency is often responsible for muscle cramps

    • Elizabeth Lavet

      Potassium is also a supplement that many finds gets rid of leg cramps. Contrary to the warning we were given in nutrition class, of not going over 100 mg., some people have taken 9 times or 900mg., before getting relief, with no side effects. Of course check with your doctor or nutritionist. Also Vitamin E, natural form, and fish oil helps, but especially E.

    • Elizabeth Lavet

      My understanding is that the diet would be no grains, not just no gluten and rice. Plenty of green leafy veggies will help you get magnesium but liquid magnesium sulfate is suppose to be easily absorbed. Also add MCT oil to the list below.

  • Sandy

    In a nut shell, muscle burns fat while at rest to sustain its integrity (size, strength and flexibility). So resistant training is very important for muscle mass because this builds more mitochondria to fuel the cells and tissue, resulting in more fat being burned while at rest. Tedious aerobic training does burn fat, but it also signals the body that there may be a famine because of the fat that’s being burned on a daily basis. The body at this point will do 2 things: 1) breakdown muscle tissue to preserve it’s “survival nutrient,” fat…remember muscle burns fat at rest and 2) starts making more fat because of the perceived famine and the fact that the body will now hold on to as much fat as it can to sustain life. It will basically drop the muscle and preserve the fat. The muscle is broken down by the way by the stress hormone cortisol…which also causes systemic inflammation. Btw…have you ever noticed that marathon runner (aerobic)are emaciated looking whereas sprinters (anaerobic) are muscular? Something to ponder. Bottom line: train smarter not harder.

  • Sandy

    Btw Reva, eat plenty of muscle building foods such as grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and eggs, plenty of high quality fats and lots of veggies and salads to build muscle and the use of anti-oxidants to fight free radical which can result in metabolic breakdown. Get in the anabolic zone and you will gain muscle even into your 90’s! 🙂

  • Julia

    Would this aerobic exercise and taking DHA help my son who has schizophrenia?

  • Theresa

    I am 61 with early onset PD. My work is stressful, I have damaged lower back vertebrae and feel exhausted, struggling to walk after being on my feet for jsut an hour. I walk my dog every evening for about 1/2 an hour, but that is all I can manage. I know aerobic is good, but I simply do not have the energy. I take all my supplements, and stick to a healthy eating regime 95% of the time. the other 5% I think , well, it does not seem to help so have a glass of wine, a chocolate, etc . I am quite at my wits end. as to the way forward. I am struggling to monitor the days I feel the best and why. ANY advice will do ????

  • Martin Sherman

    i do not see any data from you on wether or not heavy resistance training was ever tested for efficacy on increasing the size of the hippocampus or increasing BDNF.
    any thoughts on this?

  • Salman Hamid

    Dear Dr. Perlmutter…I am a big fan of your work…There is one child
    here with cerebral palsy and consequently brain atrophy (shrinking) and
    spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.. The child cannot sit and stand… Would you please recommend something for this

  • badesouzajohnson

    I am 67 years old. Is there any specific vitamin or food that I can consume that will help stop
    brain shrinkage?b.desouzajohnson

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