How exercise may help your brain resist stress-induced anxiety

Researchers at Princeton University report they have pinpointed how physical activity acts in the brain to help dampen stress-related anxiety. The team exposed mice, some that ran extensively (2.2 kilometress a night for six weeks) on exercise wheels and some that had no wheels to run on and lay around a lot instead, to a stressor (cold water) and looked for changes in their brains. When sedentary mice were exposed to stress, changes in gene expression and protein production were noted but when the runners were exposed no such changes occurred. Habitual running appeared to enhance local inhibitory mechanisms in the ventral hippocampus that dampened the reaction to the cold water stress.

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