Depressed? Go For a Run!

You really wanted to get out and do that run this morning but oh, that bed was so warm and cozy.

Don't blame yourself.  Blame your brain.

A new study has found that an area of the brain could control a person’s motivation to exercise and participate in other rewarding activities – potentially leading to improved treatments for depression.

 Scientists have discovered that a tiny region of the brain – the dorsal medial habenula – controls the desire to exercise in mice. The structure of the habenula is similar in humans and rodents and functions similarly in both species in mood regulation and motivation.

“Changes in physical activity and the inability to enjoy rewarding or pleasurable experiences are two hallmarks of major depression,” Dr. Eric Turner, a principal investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Integrative Brain Research,Turner said at “But the brain pathways responsible for exercise motivation have not been well understood. Now, we can seek ways to manipulate activity within this specific area of the brain without impacting the rest of the brain’s activity.”

Though it may sound counter-intuitive, I've found that, when I'm depressed or upset about something, if I go for a run, I always feel better.  Yes, it's hard to get the running shoes on, but once I work through the resistance, I'm so glad I did.

Exercise is one of the most effective non-pharmacological therapies for depression.

“Working in mental health can be frustrating,” Turner said. “We have not made a lot of progress in developing new treatments. I hope the more we can learn about how the brain functions the more we can help people with all kinds of mental illness.”

So exercise is good for depression and running helps you live longer.  Keep these studies coming!  Now if only my knee would heal so I could get back out there.  Talk about depressed.


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