You may have been told often that exercise helps to combat depression. The reasons behind this notion remain unclear. However, a study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm discovered evidence of the benefits.
Scientists found that the stress in mice led to a build-up of kynurenine, a type of amino acid. This caused them to show symptoms of depression, weight-loss and inertia. However, some aerobic exercise led to an increase in the production of an enzyme called PGC-1alpha1, which triggers a protein that helps combat kynurenine. The mice that had higher PGC-1alpha1 levels still experienced stress, but it didn’t lead to depression.
Effects in mice are often indicators of similar results in humans, scientists asked adult volunteers to undertake three weeks of frequent endurance training, which included 40-50 minute sessions of cycling or running at a moderate pace. At the end of the experiment, they found they had more PGC-1alpha1 in their systems.
To conclude, exercise does help to overcome stress and depression. The next time you feel stressed out, go out running for an hour to crush depression underfoot.
‘Men’s Fitness’ magazine, March 2015.