Scientists from Brigham Young University found that jogging helps lessen the
effects chronic stress has on the hippocampus,
a key area of the brain for learning and memory.
Chronic stress has been shown to hasten brain decline in people with mild
cognitive impairment and is considered a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
For this study, scientists divided mice into four groups:
a group that used running wheels and was exposed to stressful events, such as
swimming in cold water or walking on an elevated platform; a group that used
running wheels and was not exposed to stress; and two sedentary groups,
one that experienced stressful events and one that didn't.
In a maze running activity that tested memory, stressed mice
who exercised performed just as well as non-stressed mice who exercised.
"Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress,"
said study lead author Jeff Edwards, associate professor of physiology and
developmental biology at BYU. The study points to the steps we can take to
limit the impact of stress on overall brain health, even if we can't remove stress
entirely from our lives.
"The ideal situation for improving learning and memory would be to experience
no stress and to exercise," said Edwards.
"Of course, we can't always control stress in our lives, but we can control
how much we exercise. It's empowering to know that we can combat the
negative impacts of stress on our brains just by getting out and running.
"This study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning