The benefits of exercise are attributed to several mechanisms, many which highlight its neuroprotective role via actions that enhance neurogenesis, neuronal morphology and/or neurotrophin release.
However, the brain is also composed of glial and vascular elements, and comparatively less is known regarding the effects of exercise on these components in the aging brain. Here, we show that aerobic exercise at mid-age [also] counters several well-established glial markers of brain aging. Similarly, we show that age-related changes in neurovascular morphology and function were reduced with exercise.
Thus, our results show that exercise can potentially mitigate progressive age-related changes in several key non-neuronal elements of the brain. Further, we show that these brain processes are still highly responsive to exercise in the midlife age range, consistent with studies showing that cognitive function can benefit from exercise even if initiated at later ages.