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 For centuries, researchers have sought to elucidate the mechanisms behind the axiom that
equates a healthy body with a healthy mind. It has been clearly established that exercise, even
among minimal commitment exercise routines, has a whole array of robust effects on the brain,
such as enhanced memory, mood, cognitive functioning, and learning capabilities (Phillips et al.,
2014). Most notably, exercise has also been strongly implicated in having anti-depressant effects
and counteracting disease or age-related mental impairment and atrophy, such as Alzheimer’s
disease or dementia (Laurin et al., 2001). Yet, until recently, the intermediaries between exercise
and its wealth of benefits have not been well understood. 
 However, through groundbreaking work spearheaded by Gage, it has been shown that—
contrary to the age-old notion that the number of neurons in the brain remains static after
prenatal and neonatal development—new neurons can be generated in the adult brain via a
process known as neurogenesis, which can attenuate the deleterious effects of neurodegeneration
(van Praag 1999). This phenomenon has been heavily linked to exercise, with a significant
portion of subsequent neural growth occurring in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus (Cotman
& Berchtold, 2002). Since the hippocampus is critical for memory consolidation and learning,
the generation of new neurons in this brain region may explain the improved cognition that
accompanies exercise. Furthermore, preliminary research has suggested that neurogenesis may
also occur in numerous other areas of the brain, including the amygdala and hypothalamus,
which may explain the diversity of exercise-derived benefits (Fowler et al., 2008). However, this
research is not as extensive or conclusive as hippocampal neurogenesis research, nor is the extent
to which neurogenesis occurs in other brain regions as robust as it is in the hippocampus, with
the exception of the olfactory bulb (Cotman et al., 2007).

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