We all know that exercise is crucial for long-term health, and most of us realize that we feel mentally healthier and more relaxed as well. But is there evidence that exercise helps your mental health and relaxes you? Yes, there is!
The New York Times has yet another good article on health, this one discussing Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious. The main story revolves around a fascinating study involving rats and exercise:
In the experiment, scientists allowed one group of rats to run. Another set of rodents was not allowed to exercise. Then all of the rats swam in cold water, which they don’t like to do. Afterward, the scientists examined the animals’ brains. They found that the stress of the swimming activated neurons in all of the brains. But the youngest brain cells in the running rats, the cells that the scientists assumed were created by running, were less likely to express the genes. They generally remained quiet. The “cells born from running,” the researchers concluded, appeared to have been “specifically buffered from exposure to a stressful experience.” The rats had created, through running, a brain that seemed biochemically, molecularly, calm.
The article then provides a lot more research on this provocative concept, and it’s a great read. One take-home message is that exercise’s benefits on the brain need some time to develop, at least 3 to 6 weeks. So don’t give up on the exercise!
This provides even more evidence that exercise is good for both your mind and your body. And it should be a positive motivator to all those hard-driven expat business people who are overworking themselves into panic attacks: you need to stop saying that you “have no time” for exercise. You only have one life, and right now is your only moment.
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