Recent Study Shows Exercising Improves Brain Capability To Deal With Anxiety


Researchers at Princeton University recently published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience that creates a relationship between physical exercise to the reduction of anxiety. The study involve using cold water and mice. Mice that were runners were found to be immune to increased levels of protein activity that were brought out by being exposed to cold water. The way that runner mice were able to do so is by showing an increase the activity of certain brain chemicals that shut down the area of the brain that is associated with anxiety: the hippocampus.

The time period that it took for runner mice to deal with hippocampal control was six weeks. In the picture below, the brown cells show the new neurons that were recently added to the existing, blue, neurons.

As these new neurons are created, they are able to have an increased level of control on their usefulness in regulating anxiety. For the mice, running meant building up their brains the same way you would add bricks to a brick house. The more they ran, the more bricks were added. These building blocks were able to create a stronger foundation for dealing with anxiety and stress. This research will lead to better treatment of anxiety disorders.

Elizabeth Gould, Princeton’s Dorman T. Warren Professor of Psychology had the following to say:

Understanding how the brain regulates anxious behavior gives us potential clues about helping people with anxiety disorders. It also tells us something about how the brain modifies itself to respond optimally to its own environment.”

How a brain changes its behavior based on its surroundings is something we recently talked about. Even though our brain is a complicated machine, it can be controlled using simple actions such as running more often.