Good reminder as the holiday music starts playing: exercise creates physical, as well as mental, buffers for stress in the brain. Rats who had run for several weeks before stress tests (like swimming in cold water):
- showed less activation in neurons associated with stress
- displayed less anxiety and helplessness
- maintained calmness and curiosity, even when injected with oxidizing chemicals
But of course it’s not instant:
Rats that ran for only three weeks did not show much reduction in stress-induced anxiety, but those that ran for at least six weeks did.
Six weeks ’til New Year’s. Go!
The New York Times: “Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious”