Exercise linked to reduced stress, decreased anxiety-related brain interference
A study on exercise and stress in mice suggests that physical activity reduces stress and reduces anxiety’s interference with regular brain function.
The researchers based at Princeton University found that when mice that exercised regularly were exposed to the stressor of exposure to cold water, their brains demonstrated an increase in neural activity that reduces “excitement in the ventral hippocampus,” a part of the brain related to anxiety regulation.
It had been established that exercise reduces anxiety while also “promoting the growth of new neurons in the ventral hippocampus.” Because these new neurons are young, however, they should be more excitable, suggesting that exercise should result in more anxiety instead of less.
The findings from the Princeton-led team, however, contribute to our understanding of stress and the brain by demonstrating how exercise also strengthens the “mechanisms that prevent these brain cells from firing,” establishing a more clear connection between physical activity and the ventral hippocampus.