The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 19 No. 5 • June 2016


EXERCISE REDUCES ANXIETY BY ALTERING FATTY ACIDS IN THE BRAIN

When some people see the word EXERCISE, they react like beatnik Maynard G. Krebs did when he heard the word WORK in that old TV show. Not so fast. A new study reports that exercise in the form of voluntary running reduces anxiety-like behavior and increases the lipids that have important functions in the brain, including being constituents of myelin in white and gray matter. FORCED running, however, does not provide these benefits. As the paper explained, “... studies using forced swimming and restraint tests on their animal subjects reported increased corticosterone levels, suggesting that the type of exercise and whether it is voluntary or forced may result in increased stress.” (Santos-Soto, 2013) Forcing children to exercise when they don’t want to may, thus, have an unwanted effect of increasing their levels of stress as well as not having the intended beneficial effects of exercise.

Voluntary running by young adult mice resulted in reduced anxiety but also, importantly, helped to maintain brain levels of fatty acids that are constituents of myelin in white and gray matter. (For more on the beneficial effects of preventing losses of these fatty acids, see the article on THREAT.) One mechanism for the reduced anxiety (Santos-Soto, 2013) was identified as the inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase, the enzyme that cleaves palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) and the endocannabinoid (natural cannabis-type neurotransmitter) N-oleyl ethanolamide (OEA).

References

  • Santos-Soto et al. Voluntary running in young adult mice reduces anxiety-like behavior and increases the accumulation of bioactive lipids in the cerebral cortex. PLoS ONE. 8(12):e81459 (2013).

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