Why Exercise May Help in Stress Reduction

 In Resources, Toronto Therapist

gaba brain toronto therapistIn addition to therapy as one of many potential tools to manage stress and anxiety, another suggestion often made is exercise.  While exercise has been reported as a beneficial method of relieving stress and anxiety, it has not been clearly determined as to why.

That is until the recent publication of a study conducted by Princeton University, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, as reported by CBS News.

Conducted on mice, the study was done on two groups of the animals. The first group was was given a good amount of exercise and the other was more sedentary. Upon studying their brains, researchers found both groups had formed new brain cells called neurons, but the exercisers formed more neurons that release the neurotransmitter GABA, which has a calming effect on the brain.


Dr. Holly Phillips noted on “CBS This Morning,” that GABA is known to reduce anxiety. In fact, many prescription anxiety drugs cause the brain to release GABA. “These cells help to calm down the brain and hence fight anxiety,” she said.


It’s also likely, Phillips said, that the results will translate very well into humans. She said, “We’ve suspected for a very long time that GABA would, of course, be involved and now, there’s just extra (evidence) of that.”


Exercise actually changes the brain permanently, Phillips pointed out. It changes the types of cells that are there. Phillips added, “This is important because then it has lasting effects. Even 24 hours after exercise, you’re less prone to experience anxiety symptoms.”

According to an article on Epoch Times, GABA can also be supplemented with nutrition with foods such as green tea, and eating complex carbohydrates.  It also possible to supplement with GABA but it may not be as effective, as not all forms of GABA may not cross the blood-brain barrier.

Understanding how exercise and diet can increase GABA may be a helpful way to manage stress and anxiety, it can also be beneficial to understand and potentially shift stressful situations through improving emotional and mental health.

Originally cited from an article on CBS News.

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