Accumulating evidence indicates that exercise can enhance brain function and attenuate neurodegeneration. Besides improving neuroplasticity by altering the synaptic structure and function in various brain regions, exercise also modulates multiple systems that are known to regulate neuroinflammation and glial activation. Activated microglia and several pro-inflammatory cytokines play active roles in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The purpose of this review is to highlight the impacts of exercise on microglial activation. Possible mechanisms involved in exercise-modulated microglial activation are also discussed. Undoubtedly, more studies are needed in order to disclose the detailed mechanisms, but this approach offers therapeutic potential for improving the brain health of millions of aging people where pharmacological intervention has failed.
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