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How exercise may make you more resistant to stress

snow runner.jpg

Too stressed to hit the gym or go for a run after work? Consider this: preliminary results of a Princeton University study indicate that new brain cells created by aerobic activity, specifically running, are more resistant to stress.

The New York Times' Well blog reports:

In the experiment, scientists allowed one group of rats to run. Another set of rodents was not allowed to exercise. Then all of the rats swam in cold water, which they don’t like to do. Afterward, the scientists examined the animals’ brains. They found that the stress of the swimming activated neurons in all of the brains. (The researchers could tell which neurons were activated because the cells expressed specific genes in response to the stress.) But the youngest brain cells in the running rats, the cells that the scientists assumed were created by running, were less likely to express the genes. They generally remained quiet.

But reaping such anxiety-reducing benefits of exercising may take more than sporadic gym visits or an occasional run. A University of Colorado study involving rats found that a reduction in stress-inducing anxiety experienced by the animals only occurred after the rodents had been regularly running for at least six weeks.

Photo by mysza831

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