Studies have shown exercise to improve mental health, ease symptoms of anxiety, and reduce feelings of irritability, but The New York Times has reported that a study from the National Institute of Mental Health adds an interesting dimension to the effects of exercising. The study shows how deep the effects can reach and just how a small amount of exercise can provide stress resilience.
The study placed two groups of mice in the same stressful, intimidating environment with other bigger, stronger and more dominant mice. The doctors observed the brain cell activity in the rodent’s medial prefrontal cortex in order to understand the emotional responses. The first group, which was not subject to exercise prior to the encounter “responded to the repeated stress by becoming depressed.” The second group that was allowed to access running wheels and other equipment prior to the encounter “appeared to be, Dr. Lehmann said, stress-resistant.” When the exercised based mice group was out of the stressful, intimidating environment, they bounced back and continued to explore as oppose to hiding in dark spaces as the non-exercise based group.
Interestingly, the doctors studying this case mentioned that the mice ran only when and for as long they wanted. The study does not state that long hours of exercise is the answer to being stress resilient. Actually, the extreme can have the reverse effect.
Workout. Don’t over do it. It will not only make you stronger physically but mentally.