Table of Contents
- Literature Review and Discussion
This paper explores 3 published articles research online, and offline on the effects of working out, steroids, and supplements are taken by those who work out, and how it is related to the brain/ nervous system. The articles used vary in how they relate to the brain and nervous system. (Kanayama, and Brower) suggests that Anabolic – androgenic steroids cause dependency syndrome, it also shares rain mechanisms with other forms of substance dependence. (Sayal) suggests that working out/ exercising increases the size of the hippocampus, better memory, and more neuro-protection. (Meeusen) suggests that the central nervous system might be manipulated through supplementation, and in many studies, positive effects were shown.
Numerous studies have been collected on the various workout topics, how they relate to neuroscience in both positive and negative ways. However, not all are actually healthy or productive for the brain and nervous system related to neuroscience as some may think. According to (Kanayama, and Brower, online) Anabolic steroid usage shows a lot of negative effects on the brain, now I know you’re asking yourself, okay well it’s a steroid so that’s a no-brainier right? However, there is another article that will actually catch you by surprise as it did for me. (Meeusen, online) suggests that in their study supplement usage includes many things people tend to stay away from such as caffeine etc. Well in this study they found many more positive effects than negative, which in our stereotypical opinion on supplements is the opposite of what we are told.
Lastly exercise and working out according to (Sayal, online) almost all has positive effects on the brain and nervous system. This would also fit our general description of “working out is healthy” however many don’t know what exactly makes this healthy for our brain, so Sayal breaks it down nicely. While these topics are closely related they are no means over the same topic, which would be very repetitive in that most studies do compare very well with one another in these topic fields, so I chose to tie a few very closely related together and compare and contrast the two.
Literature Review and Discussion
In (Kanayama, and Brower, online) Starts with Aims Anabolic steroids (AAS) which almost everyone knows what a steroid is used for, however, did you know there are different kinds of steroids, used for different purposes? Well, this steroid is a very common steroid used by those who work out looking for a lean way to gain muscle and decrease their body fat percentage. According to this research (AAS), “this may cause a distinct dependence syndrome, often associated with adverse psychiatric and medical effects” (Kanayama, online). Thirty percent of these specific steroid user will develop a dependence syndrome. Over time being exposed those users will begin to develop severe effects on physical, psychological, and psychosocial functioning. These effects are very similar and in some circumstances, the same features felt from classical drug dependence. This classical drug dependence is similar to when a rat will self-administer a drug to the point where it dies from the substance. For 30 percent of the users, this is how bad the dependency becomes. This AAS withdrawal system among animals and rats shared is umpired by neuroendocrine and cortical neurotransmitter systems.
Classical drugs are mostly addictive because of the adverse immediate effect of the drug. When it comes to an Anabolic steroid or any steroid really, it’s actually a slow-release drug that is designed to be in the system for a long time for the best effect (muscle growth). Most anabolic is administered through an intramuscular, which also results in a much slower effect. Most classical drugs are administered through an oral, sublingual, rectum, intravascular, and inhalation method for a more immediate response for most, if not all classical drugs are designed to have a very fast/ immediate effect. “The Standard diagnostic criteria for substance dependence, “usually crafted for acutely intoxicating drugs, must be adapted slightly for cumulatively acting drugs such as AAS” (Kanayama, online). (AAS) can be diagnosed under these criteria regardless of it being not an immediate intoxication drug due to its similar aggressive dependency on the drug. AAS shares brain mechanisms with these other classical drug dependencies. Overall the addictiveness of the Steroid alone out ways the few, if any positive effects that (AAS) may have.
Similar to the AAS study, another article was done on various supplements taken in which oppositely, many positive things came from these supplements, unlike the Anabolic steroid. It’s no surprise that diet and supplement intake will play a role in the cognitive functioning of the brain, but in what ways and how does it do so positively. When do we think of a few of the supplements tested in this study (branched-chain amino, tyrosine, carbohydrates, and caffeine we instantly think hmm a few goods a few bad rights? Well according to Meeusen’s research we would both be wrong (for the most part). To start with branch chain amino acid we all thought instantly well that’s a no-brainier we should see great things from this supplement, and well through the research it shows almost no signs (nothing significant) of mental performance or exertion. There are a few other studies that have also replicated this result of little to no performance change mentally or physically.
The next up to bat is Tyrosine. Now tyrosine is a more mentally enhanced specific drug than anything physical. However, it is found in various supplements for awareness and focus abilities. Evidence of a benefit from tyrosine supplementation while exercising is very limited, and not much is found, however, slight dehydration can actually impair cognitive performance and of course mood. Carbohydrates seem to be a powerhouse, so next time you think supplements think of carbs! Various studies including this one have found that “the beneficial effect of carbohydrate supplementation during prolonged exercise could relate to increased substrate delivery for the brain, with numerous studies indicating that hypoglycemia affects brain function and cognitive performance” (Meeusen, online).
Lastly, the one everyone has been waiting for where does Caffeine fall into place? Can it actually have positive effects? Why does everyone say it’s bad for us? Well to start moderation is always key but let’s refrain from specific amounts. The big benefit of Caffeine is reducing the perception of how much effort you’re using during a long exercise. It also can enhance performance, as well as cause certain reward centers in the brain to be influenced. “Plant products and herbal extracts such as polyphenols, ginseng, ginkgo Biloba, etc. are marketed as supplements to enhance performance” ( Meeusen, online). Many positive effects were shown from these supplements. The Polyphenols can protect neurons from neurotoxins, slow down or stop neuroinflammation, linked to better memory, learning, and brain/thought functioning. Many of these supplements have “brainpower” linked to them which gives them a very positive role in brain function.
In a much more positive relation according to (Sayal, online) working out/ exercising increases the size of the hippocampus, better memory, and more neuro-protection. In the Sayal study, they looked at the benefits of exercising which led to the increased size of the hippocampus, and the increase in memory from it. Aerobic exercise is known to be the best exercise in accomplishing these benefits. They took 60 individuals and had them do aerobic exercises, and then they took 60 other individuals and had them do nonaerobic exercises such as muscle toning and yoga. According to Syal “The study found that aerobic exercise helps in neuroprotection by enhancing the hippocampal volume and increasing the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the serum.” (Sayal, online)
To further research these studies a few things would need to happen. The first big thing is more steroid studies with a mix of other things being used. This would help because most of the individuals who take anabolic’s illegally will stack them with other substances like estrogen blockers, or even another type of steroids. This would help in seeing the adverse effects on the brain from taking multiple things. I would also like to see more research done on adding creatine to the list of supplements taken. These are all things that would be very important in adding more backing evidence and ideas to linking an exercise lifestyle to effects on the brain.