Exercise makes the brain stress-resistant
Every day, your body and your mind battle stress. The good news is that research from Princeton University has found that exercising can help your brain more resilient in the fight against these stressors, minimizing the brain's response to stress and keeping anxiety from interfering with normal brain functioning. The researchers wanted to better understand how the brain regulates anxious behavior and to evaluate how responses change when it is exposed to stresses in the environment.
When mice in this study were exposed to cold water, those allowed to exercise exhibited a spike in brain activity that shut off the area of the brain related to anxiety regulation. That indicated that exercise can reduce anxiety while promoting the growth of new neurons in the ventral hippocampus – the brain region that handles excitement. Exercise, the study showed, can strengthen the mechanisms that prevent these new neurons from becoming too excited.
The researchers noted that while stressor can trigger a "fight or flight" reaction in animals, this research suggests that exercise can help produce a more measured response.