Chronic stress can negatively affect your brain’s capacity for learning and memory. A recent study by lead author Jeff Edwards, associate professor of physiology and developmental biology at Brigham Young University, found that running can effectively mitigate the impact of chronic stress on the brain.
"Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress," said Edwards, discussing his findings in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.
The study specifically targeted the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for the creation and recall of memories. When the synaptic connections in the hippocampus on strengthen over time, the process is referred to as long-term potentiation (LPT). Chronic stress decreases LPT; but, when chronic stress occurs in conjunction with exercise, LPT is not decreased.
The results of the study demonstrate that exercise is an essential way to stave off learning and memory that decrease in the brain, typically associated with the negative cognitive impacts of chronic stress.
According to Edwards:
"The ideal situation for improving learning and memory would be to experience no stress and to exercise. 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."
Under stress? Want to start exercising, but are unsure of how to begin? We can help. Our Personal Trainers and Medical Exercise Specialists have experience working with a variety of fitness levels, ages, and abilities.
- Roxanne M. Miller, David Marriott, Jacob Trotter, Tyler Hammond, Dane Lyman, Timothy Call, Bethany Walker, Nathanael Christensen, Deson Haynie, Zoie Badura, Morgan Homan, Jeffrey G. Edwards. Running exercise mitigates the negative consequences of chronic stress on dorsal hippocampal long-term potentiation in male mice. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 2018; 149: 28 DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2018.01.008