UMD Researchers Find Exercise May Have Extended Health Benefits

UMD Researchers Find Exercise May Have Extended Health Benefits

University of Maryland Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology J. Carson Smith published a study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal that examines how exercise and sleep have beneficial effects on one’s stress and anxiety levels. Now, researchers from the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park are looking into more prolonged effects of these actions on one’s health.

"Not as much is known about the potency of exercise's impact on emotional state and whether these positive effects endure when we're faced with everyday stressors once we leave the gym," explains Smith.

His research explores how exercise and physical activity affect brain function, aging and mental health. Healthy students had their anxiety levels recorded before and after a 30-minute period of moderate intensity cycling or quiet rest by answering questions about their mental state. Then, the students were shown 90 highly pleasant and unpleasant images, and some neutral images as well. These images were designed to generate emotions caused by everyday experience’s, ranging from pictures of food and puppies to violence to furniture.

The study found that both exercise and rest lowered anxiety levels equally. However, after viewing the pictures, those who only rested began to experience anxiety levels sooner than those who exercised. It was found that exercise not only alleviates stress and anxiety, but it helps to maintain these lower levels, even during emotional events.

This study may lead to valuable implications for people suffering from regular anxiety, depression or Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise promotes changes in the brain that may protect those at high risk for Alzheimer's disease.

For more information, visit: http://newsdesk.umd.edu/universitynews/release.cfm?ArticleID=2777

September 13, 2012


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