It’s not like we needed another reason, but for anyone who still thinks that being a couch potato is a cool thing to be, think again.
New research suggests that physical fitness can benefit you mentally as well as physically.
To be fair, this is not the first time fitness has been linked to mental as well as physical well-being.
Endorphins and endocannabinoids, the ‘feel good’ chemicals released by the body in times of physical exertion, have also been found to have beneficial effects on the mind.
Most recently though, a study has produced findings that suggest working out could stave off depression.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden conducted a study using mice where they found that changes in skeletal muscles as a result of exercise helped to rid the body of stress-inducing amino acid known as kynurenine that has been linked to depression.
What researchers thought they would find was that such muscle changes would have beneficial effects on the brain, perhaps something akin to forming a ‘shield’ of sorts that would fend off harmful chemicals. Instead what they discovered was kind of the opposite – that people with fit muscles produce enzymes that actively evacuate such detrimental beings.
This is incredible research for a number of reasons.
At a time when both obesity and depression are growing major problems in our society, these findings could not be more timely.
Society is becoming more and more sedentary as time goes on. Many people have jobs that require them to sit at desks working on computers for long portions of the day.
Families spend more of their free time watching television and playing video games (although there are some good things to be said about video games in this day and age as well and they are certainly being put to clever new uses).
At the same time, depression and mental illness in general is a growing concern. Last month, Lacombians gathered at the Lacombe Memorial Centre for the Walk for Wellness and Suicide prevention to promote awareness about mental wellness and suicide.
It has been said before that many people turn to suicide when suffering from depression or other mental health issues because there is not enough awareness about the issues or treatments readily available.
Now, it is possible that a simple treatment which already exists could be readily available to everyone. As it happens, that treatment also fights obesity. It seems to be a mutually beneficial correlation.
As always further research is needed. Brains and muscles of mice are vastly different from brains and muscles of humans. Still, the possibilities are promising.