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Going for a run during a stressful time does wonders for mental and emotional health. But the stress-relief benefits of exercise go beyond the anecdotal. Exercise increases the brain's resilience to stress. This happens through elevated levels of the neuromodulator galanin, a protein that influences stress and mood and has been implicated in stress-related psychiatric disorders. Now, a new study says that exercise fights off stress by increasing levels of the brain protein galanin. This was published in JNeurosci.
In examining the relationship between exercise and stress relief, researchers measured anxious behaviors in mice 24 hours after a stressful event. Mice that had access to an exercise wheel for three weeks displayed fewer anxious behaviors compared to mice that didn't exercise. The exercising mice also had elevated galanin levels in the locus coeruleus, a cluster of neurons in the brainstem involved in the stress response. The amount of time the mice spent exercising in the third week correlated with the amount of galanin in the locus coeruleus, which in turn correlated with their degree of stress resilience. Genetically increasing locus coeruleus galanin in sedentary mice recapitulated the beneficial effects of exercise. The increased galanin did not alter other aspects of the animal's behavior, suggesting galanin may be recruited only during periods of high stress.
Here are a few other ways in which exercises can help you deal with your stress levels.
When you exercise, you experience a rush of adrenaline, which pumps up your endorphins. These are your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters. Any kind of exercise can give you this rush. You can go for a brisk walk or indulge in some strength training. What you do does not matter. What matters is that you indulge in some physical activity that makes your heart beat faster.
Exercise offers stress relief by actually imitating the effects of stress like the flight or fight response. This helps your body adapt better to stress. Regular exercise will also boost your overall health, which can again bring down stress levels. It boosts cardiovascular and digestive health and makes your immune system strong. A strong body will help you deal with the adverse effects of stress anytime.
Any strenuous physical activity will take your mind off daily irritants and help you concentrate on the present moment. You will soon be able to get rid of all tensions by exercising regularly. It will make you optimistic and help you be calm, clear and focused in everything you do.
Exercise regularly if you want to be happy. It can increase your self-confidence and also improve your mood. Moreover, you will be able to relax. This will bring down your risk of depression and anxiety too. You will sleep better and be generally happy.
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