Fight depression with exercise

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Fight depression with exercise

Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.  When you exercise, you body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

In the Journal Cell a research goes further to say that exercise helps combat depression by the way it affects a stress chemical commonly found in patients with mental illness.  Researchers have discovered a new mechanism working at the cellular level, which may explain further some of the power of exercise to combat depression.

Physical activity combats depression by purging the body of a harmful substance that accumulates during stress, research suggests.

After exercise muscles, produce enzymes that convert the stress chemical kynurenine into a form that cannot pass into the brain, tests on mice have shown.

Although its precise function is unknown, high levels of kynurenine are found in patients with mental illness.

Scientists believe taking exercise may reduce symptoms of depression by the way it affects the stress compound.

Lead researcher Dr Jorge Ruas, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said: “Well-trained muscle produces an enzyme that purges the body of harmful substances. So in this context the muscle’s function is reminiscent of that of the kidney or the liver.

“It’s possible that this work opens up a new pharmacological principle in the treatment of depression, where attempts could be made to influence skeletal muscle function instead of targeting the brain directly.

“Skeletal muscle appears to have a detoxification effect that, when activated, can protect the brain from insults and related mental illness.”

By no means does this answer everything about how depression works but it suggests that future treatment for depression might include building skeletal muscle rather than targeting the brain directly.

Meanwhile we could do both our bodies’ physical and mental health a lot of good by just keeping up a daily exercise routine.


Tina is a DailyStar senior writer. She graduated from Edith Cowan University. Writing has always been something she enjoyed. Her positive outlook colours every aspect of her life. Her motto -Life’s too short so get living.

When she’s not busy writing, Tina is exploring the city she adores, running in her local Park every day, drinking an absurd amount of coffee, taking care of an adorable pup, kids and traveling.

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