Back in June, we blogged that exercise can improve mood for up to 12 hours, much longer than researchers expected. Last month, Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times "Well" blog described some fascinating research that sheds even more light on the exercise/stress reduction connection.
According to the blog, researchers already know that exercise can stimulate the creation of new brain cells. What they didn't know is that these new neurons are special; they behave differently under stress. In tests performed on rats, the "new" brain cells remained calm even when the animals were in stressful situations. That means that exercise may actually change the brain, enabling us to handle stress better.
The Princeton research hasn't been extended to humans yet, but the message is clear. Although the long-term health benefits of exercise are well-known, there are many benefits, such as stress reduction and improved mood, that you can start enjoying right away.