Feeling Stressed? Why exercise will help.
- For six weeks the mice were divided into two groups. Both were given cages that has places that were well lit and had shadowy corners. One group had a wheel they could run on as they pleased. The other did not have a wheel. The scientists measured each groups baseline nervousness.
- The mice with the wheel (runners) were more willing to explore and spend time in the open. An indication that there were more confident and less anxious than the mice without exercise.
- The brains of the runners had lots of new neurons. The sedentary mice also had new neurons but not as many.
- The runner’s’ brains had developed more neurons that are created to calm the brain’s activity by releasing the calming neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is “an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is often referred to as “nature’s VALIUM-like substance”. When GABA is out of range (high or low excretion values), it is likely that an excitatory neurotransmitter is firing too often in the brain. GABA will be sent out to attempt to balance this stimulating over-firing” (www.neurogistics.com).
- Runners had many new cells in the ventral region of the hippocampus, these are believed to help process emotions.
- The scientists tested the mice’s behavior and neurological reactions to anxiety by placing them in ice-cold water for five minutes. Mice dislike water and find immersion high stressful, although it is not life-threatening. The brain’s of both groups became highly emotional. However the runners brains calmed quicker than the sedentary mice. It appeared that having more cells to release the neurotransmitter GABA was able to better calm the excitable new brain cells. This lead to the runners being stressed for less time than the sedentary mice.