Exercise Builds a Calmer Brain

We’ve known for a long time that exercise reduces stress … but new research on rats
described in The New York Times
 is showing that exercise actually builds calmer brains.

“It looks more and more like the positive stress of exercise prepares cells and structures and pathways within the brain so that they’re more equipped to handle stress in other forms,” says Michael Hopkins, a graduate student affiliated with the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Laboratory at Dartmouth, who has been studying how exercise differently affects thinking and emotion. “It’s pretty amazing, really, that you can get this translation from the realm of purely physical stresses to the realm of psychological stressors.”

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  1. When you consider how far evolution lags behind changes in society, these findings make perfect sense. Huge numbers of people, thanks to type of job, life-style etc. experience nothing like the levels of movement for which we have evolved. The resulting malaise is a real problem in many ways. We are now faced with the ironic situation where exercise, having largely been taken out of life, has to be put back in artificially.