If you believe that physical exercise relieves you of stress, you are absolutely right. A recent study has revealed that engaging in physical exercise helps protect the brain from depression resulting from stress. This is an important revelation since depression affects more than 350 million people around the world.
Conventional Ways of Coping with Depression
Depression is normally handled in several ways. Some of the strategies currently in use are the standard medication for depression, cognitive brain techniques, and many forms of exercises. However, it is still unclear as to why physical exercise can be used to treat those who suffer from stress-induced depression.
“In neurological terms, we actually still don’t know what depression is. Our study represents another piece in the puzzle, since we provide an explanation for the protective chemical changes induced by physical exercise that prevent the brain from being damaged during stress,” says Mia Lindskog, a researcher at the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
The Ramification of the Latest Research on Physical Exercise
But the implication of the research is clear: there is a positive influence that physical exercise does to the brain. This recent research study, has given a clear indication on the beneficial effects of physical exercise to depressed patients.
In other words, based on their findings, physical exercise could protect the brain from stress-induced depression. Specifically, the researchers found out that exercise training induces change in skeletal muscle that can remove from the blood a substance that accumulates during stress, and is therefore harmful to the brain.
Before this study was made, it was accepted that the protein PGC-1α1 increases in skeletal muscle with exercise, and mediates the beneficial muscle conditioning in connection with physical activity.
In their study, the scientists used a mouse that is genetically modified with high levels of PGC-1α1 in skeletal muscle. This mouse, together with other controlled mice, was brought to a stressful environment where there’s a lot of noise, reversed circadian rhythm, and flashing lights.
When the mice were evaluated after five weeks, the scientists found out that the controlled mice have acquired depressive behavior, while the genetically modified mouse did not manifest any depressive symptoms.
This clearly indicates that with the presence of protein PGC-1α1 in skeletal muscle induced by physical exercise, it is possible to prevent depression in humans.
The researchers, being scientists in nature, understandably will not clearly state that this is so, in the absence of voluminous scientific proofs which can only be acquired through long and tedious clinical trials and tests.
It Will Not Hurt if You Will Take the Cue
However, it will not hurt you if you will use their findings to induce yourself to do physical exercises. At least you already have a clear indication that it helps your brain in protecting itself from the damages caused by stress-produced chemicals.
“Our initial research hypothesis was that trained muscle would produce a substance with beneficial effects on the brain,” says Jorge Ruas, the principal investigator of the study. “We actually found the opposite: well-trained muscles produce an enzyme that purges the body of harmful substances,” he adds.
The researchers also found out that the mouse with a higher level of protein PGC-1α1 has a higher level of KAT. This element converts a substance, kynurenine, formed during stress, into kynurenic acid. This acid is not able to pass from the blood to the brain. High levels of kynurenine are observed in mental patients. This is another clear indication that physical activity, such as exercise, can really prevent you from getting depressed.
Use this Knowledge to Improve Your Health
What then is the value of this latest scientific finding? Its value rests on what you will do with this information. Now that you know that engaging in physical exercise can protect your brain from chemical substances that causes depression, it should encourage you even more to engage in regular physical exercise.
You don’t need to wait until the whole scientific field gives a go-signal to this beneficial concept. If you want to maintain good health and a balanced mind, you have to engage in regular physical exercise. Perhaps it will help if you become a member of a fitness gym, like Equinox or LA Fitness. You will have the impetus to exercise regularly if you do so.
In fact, if you don’t know it yet, physical exercise is prescribed as an antidepressant co-therapy for patients suffering from depression. This new research finding has even helped scientists to think of developing a new strain of drugs which could become an additional method of treating stressed-induced depression.
“These antidepressants would not need to cross the blood-brain barrier to act on the brain (since their mechanism of action would be activating muscle as a kynurenine detoxification organ),” says Ruas. “For that reason, one can imagine that such antidepressant could have less secondary effects,” he concludes.