Exercise Prevents Stress


A lot of us know from experience that exercise is a great stress buster. Elizabeth Gould (Professor of Psychology at Princeton) and her associates have clarified the process. Their research was published in the March issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Their experiments were performed on mice. The mice were divided into 2 groups:

  • Sedentary group: no running wheel
  • Active group: free access to a running wheel (mice run about 4 km per day when given a running wheel!)

Six weeks later the mice were exposed to a stressor (cold water). The sedentary group showed an increase in ‘immediate early genes’ (short-lived genes that turn on rapidly when neurons fire). Whereas the active group showed no presence of these genes suggesting no neuronal excitation secondary to the stressor. In the active group, inhibitory neurons were more active and more gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) was released in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that calms down neural excitement.

Gould concluded that “the results suggest that running improves anxiety regulation by engaging local inhibitory mechanisms in the ventral hippocampus”. In layman’s terms, this means that exercise prevents stress and anxiety by suppressing brain agitation.

Leave a comment


Email(will not be published)*


Your comment*

Submit Comment