Good News! Exercise Can Protect Your Brain From Stress-Induced Depression

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If your teen needs some extra motivation to go for a run, consider this new research. Physical exercise helps protect the brain from stress-induced depression, according to Science Daily. Researchers in Sweden found that exercise causes changes in the skeletal muscles of mice that remove substances from the blood that accumulate during stress.

Here’s what the scientists discovered:

These mice, and normal control mice, were exposed to a stressful environment, such as loud noises, flashing lights and reversed circadian rhythm at irregular intervals. After five weeks of mild stress, normal mice had developed depressive behavior, whereas the genetically modified mice (with well-trained muscle characteristics) had no depressive symptoms.

Initially they believed this meant that they developed a substance when exercising that benefits the brain, but after closer examination, they realized it creates an enzyme that removes harmful substances from the body. The researchers say it’s similar to the function of the kidney or liver.

While this study was conducted with animals, it is believed the same is true for humans. This makes all the more reason to lace up those sneakers and hit the gym!

For more about depression, be sure to keep an eye out for our story in the upcoming November/December issue of Choices. To learn more about the magazine, including how to start a subscription, click here!

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