Exercise works as an antidepressant – but the effect varies

Exercise has been shown to improve mood. One explanatory factor may be muscle-produced kynurenine, which is suspected of damaging nerve cells.

Recent research has shown that exercise increases the amount of kynurenine-degrading enzymes, which can protect nerve cells and reduce depression.

Coaches for stress

With exercise, we can learn to tolerate stress better. According to research, exercise is like practicing a stress response: our sympathetic nervous system is activated, we have to use the resources of our body and we learn to recover from the load.

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When we train our stress response in a gym, for example, these skills are better available in the rest of life as well.

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Protect memory

Physically active people have a lower risk of developing memory disorders. This is also visible in their brains.

“This is especially the case for older people: those who move a lot move memory and information skills more slowly than those who move a little,” says the researcher. Tiina Parviainen From the University of Jyväskylä.

Facilitates learning

Exercise stimulates blood circulation and metabolism, which enhances brain function. In addition, it produces nerve growth factors and hormones in the bloodstream that can improve the brain’s ability to learn something new.

In animal experiments, it has been found that exercise that raises the heart rate even increases the production of new nerve cells in the brain.

– However, nerve cells do nothing in the brain alone, but must be connected to an existing neural network. This requires active, meaningful doing.

Which is better: a sweat loop or a yoga class?

According to Tiina Parviainen, any exercise that promotes physical health is probably good for our brains as well. However, we each have an individual mind and an individual brain.

– It is worth listening to what kind of exercise makes you feel good. For example, yoga may be better for someone than a sweat loop, Tiina Parviainen suggests.

Expert: Tiina Parviainen, Director of the Brain Research Center, University Researcher, University of Jyväskylä.

This article has appeared in Good Health magazine. As a subscriber, you can read all numbers free of charge from the digilehdet.fi service

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