Less stress in motion!

2013July23_InjuryRecovery_AHow do you react to stress? Does it change your behavior and your desire to take risks? Does the way you deal with stress link to your lifestyle changes? Can it be adapted through exercise? A recent study suggests that there is a direct link between activity and the development and firing of your brain’s neurons which regulate stress levels. Could the way you move set in motion mechanisms in the body to truly impact stress regulation and ultimately how stressed you feel?

A recent Princeton University study involved two groups of mice. One group were able to exercise on a wheel whenever they wanted to, while a second group were not given the option. Six weeks later, all the mice were presented with a stress factor, through coming into contact with cold water for a short spell. The results revealed that the running mice were less reactive than the inactive mice in terms of their neurons firing and showing activity

Exercise excites neurons

Exercise is known to encourage the development of neurons, and these new neurons are more prone to becoming excitable or to fire more easily. With this in mind, what was surprising about the results was that instead of this excitable state, the running mice seemed to take the stress factor far more in their pace than the more anxiety-driven sedentary mice. The reason being was that exercise triggered other responses which dampened the excitement of the neurons.

Exercise inhibits stress

What the researchers found was that while these new neurons were firing something was holding them back in the active mice. The running mice revealed a greater amount of GABA which is a neurotransmitter that regulates neuronal excitability. This has an effect on the nervous system, keeping the potentially excitable neurons inhibited. The increase in these neurons and inhibitors was found in the ventral hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that deals with regulating anxiety.

Fight or flight

If you’re not physically fit and you’re presented with a dangerous situation, then you’re less well-equipped to either flee or stand your ground and do battle. The fight-or-flight reaction was at one time literally about running away from say a wild animal or turning it into your food for the day. Modern day stresses are brought about when the flight-or-fight reaction is triggered but there’s nothing to fight and there’s nowhere to go, such as a traffic jam in rush hour.

If by not being as physically fit you are less able to deal with stress, or regulate it, this could, arguably create enough anxiety to avoid a dangerous situation altogether. This idea of there being a purpose for less active types being protected from situations they wouldn’t be able to face through anxiety brought about through their lack of exercise is certainly an interesting idea.

Treating anxiety disorders

Research that aims to really focus in on areas of the brain and neurotransmitters that regulate anxiety is important in understanding the range of anxiety and depression illnesses that affect millions of people either at one point in their life or throughout. Exercise has long been renowned as good therapy for therapy for the mind and it could be that being active gets right to the core of our anxiety regulating mechanisms and is able to change how anxious we feel and therefore how equipped we are to deal with life’s challenges.

This entry was posted in General Health Articles A, Injury & Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Internet Presence Management for Health Club Owners

    pronto logoFull-service, pay-as-you-go all inclusive websites, from design and content to SEO and social media management for one low monthly price. Learn more at Pronto for Health Clubs.