Physical activity and brain health

Romain MeeusenChair: Romain Meeusen (BEL) - Prof. Dr. Romain Meeusen, (PhD) is head of the Human Physiology Research Group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His research interest is focussed on “Exercise and the Brain in Health & Disease” exploring the influence of neurotransmitters on human performance, training, rehabilitation. Recent work is on Thermoregulation, Neurogenesis, Cognition, nutrition in health & disease. He teaches on exercise physiology, training & coaching and sports physiotherapy. Romain published ca 400 articles and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals, 18 books on sport physiotherapy, and gave lectures at more than 750 national and international conferences. He is past President of the Belgian Society of Kinesiology, the Belgian Federation of Sports Physiotherapy, and the society of kinesiology Belgium. He is former Board member of the European College of Sport Science ECSS (2000-2013), and of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) (2010-2013). In 2009 he received the Belgian ‘Francqui Chair’ at the Université Libre de Bruxelles on ‘Exercise and the Brain’. He is also holder of two named lecturing chairs at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is director of the Human Performance lab of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he works with several top athletes, and is scientific advisor of the ‘Lotto Cycling Institute’ (Lotto-Soudal professional cycling team).

Abstract

Today an emerging body of literature has documented the beneficial influence of physical exercise on several aspects of brain function. In humans, physical exercise promotes brain health by its positive influence on mood changes, decreased levels of anxiety and depression. It is also clear that exercise improves learning and memory, and can be an efficient therapy in the prevention and treatment of several neurological diseases. The purpose of this symposium is to report on the recent findings of the effect of physical activity on brain health. The first speaker (R. Meeusen) will explain the possible mechanisms by which exercise will influence neurotransmission and neurogenesis, and how these neurochemical and molecular reactions might explain the preventive and therapeutic effect of physical activity on brain health. The second and third speaker ( R. Arida, A. Dunn) will elaborate on this topic form two specific pathologies : epilepsy and depression (mood disorders). It will be explained how physical activity may be a potential candidate as non-pharmacological treatment of epilepsy, and help in the reduction of seizure susceptibility. The main results from several meta-analyses show that exercise also has an antidepressant effect compared with control conditions. Exercise is a safe therapy which has no medication side effects such as withdrawal symptoms, weight gain , dry mouth or insomnia, but shows potential health benefits such as weight reduction, increased cardiovascular health, and musculo-skeletal strength and endurance. Therefore exercise can be a strong intervention for several brain disorders and for the improvement of quality of life of these individuals.

Speakers:

Romain Meeusen1. Romain Meeusen (BEL) - Prof. Dr. Romain Meeusen, (PhD) is head of the Human Physiology Research Group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His research interest is focussed on “Exercise and the Brain in Health & Disease” exploring the influence of neurotransmitters on human performance, training, rehabilitation. Recent work is on Thermoregulation, Neurogenesis, Cognition, nutrition in health & disease. He teaches on exercise physiology, training & coaching and sports physiotherapy. Romain published ca 400 articles and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals, 18 books on sport physiotherapy, and gave lectures at more than 750 national and international conferences. He is past President of the Belgian Society of Kinesiology, the Belgian Federation of Sports Physiotherapy, and the society of kinesiology Belgium. He is former Board member of the European College of Sport Science ECSS (2000-2013), and of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) (2010-2013). In 2009 he received the Belgian ‘Francqui Chair’ at the Université Libre de Bruxelles on ‘Exercise and the Brain’. He is also holder of two named lecturing chairs at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is director of the Human Performance lab of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he works with several top athletes, and is scientific advisor of the ‘Lotto Cycling Institute’ (Lotto-Soudal professional cycling team).

Title Presentation: Exercise, neurotransmission, neurogenesis and brain health

Ricardo Arida2. Ricardo Mario Arida (BRA) - Ricardo Mario Arida received his Ph.D. from the Department of Neurology at Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil (1999) for his work studying the relationship between epilepsy and physical exercise. He did his postdoctoral research on the role of central fatigue hypothesis at Oxford University, UK (1999-2000). He continued his research on the effect of physical activity in epilepsy as Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Experimental Neurology at Universidade Federal de São Paulo – Brazil (2001-2006). Currently, he is Associate Professor at the Department of Physiology – Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Universidade Federal de São Paulo. He was elected as a Member of Taskforce on Sports and Epilepsy - International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and Member of São Paulo State Academy of Science. His scientific activity is documented by more than 180 publications in peer-reviewed and indexed international journals. He has experience in Neurophysiology, acting on the following subjects: neuroplasticity, physical exercise and brain, exercise during brain development and brain aging and exercise. Specifically, his research is focused on the mechanisms by which exercise reduces seizure frequency in animal models of epilepsy. Research Interests: Neurological diseases and exercise, neuroplasticity, epilepsy and exercise, brain and exercise.

Title Presentation: Physical activity and epilepsy

Danusa Dias Soares3. Danusa Dias Soares (BRA) - Danusa Dias Soares received her Ph.D. from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil (2003) working with serotonergic system and fatigue mechanisms during exercise. During her Ph.D. she did a “Sandwich” program (CAPES) at INSERM at Bordeaux, France (2002), where she worked with serotonergic system and different models of stress. She is a Full Professor of Exercise Physiology at Universidade Federal of Minas Gerais, Brazil, where she works since 1994. She did her postdoctoral research on exercise, nutrition and brain at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium (2014-2015). Dr. Soares is currently the coordinator of Exercise Physiology Laboratory (LAFISE) at Universidade Federal of Minas Gerias, Brazil, where she has been doing research on monoaminegic systems, more specifically on serotonergic and dopaminergic systems and exercise and on nutritional manipulations and brain function and exercise. She is a member of Brazilian Physiological Society as well as of European College of Sports Science and since January 2014 she has been working as a consultant in the area of physical activity and health for the Brazilian Sports Ministry. Dr. Soares has publications in peer-reviewed and indexed international journals and also book chapters in the field of exercise science and physiology.
Research Interests: Monoaminergic systems and exercise, brain nutrition and exercise, thermoregulation and exercise, fatigue mechanisms during exercise and exercise and chronic diseases.

Title Presentation: Physical activity and depression