Exercise can help you fight off stress by increasing levels of a brain protein

Going for a run during a stressful time does wonders for mental and emotional health. But the stress-relief benefits of exercise go beyond the anecdotal. Exercise increases the brain’s resilience to stress. This happens through elevated levels of the neuromodulator galanin, a protein that influences stress and mood and has been implicated in stress-related psychiatric disorders. Now, a new study says that exercise fights off stress by increasing levels of the brain protein galanin.

Galanin may be recruited only during periods of high stress

In examining the relationship between exercise and stress relief, researchers measured anxious behaviors in mice 24 hours after a stressful event. Mice that had access to an exercise wheel for three weeks displayed fewer anxious behaviors compared to mice that didn’t exercise.

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