Research continues to show that exercise offers protection against the emotional toll of daily stress.
An animal study from the National Institute of Mental Health found that mice who exercised for several weeks were happy and relaxed after interacting with more aggressive mice. Those who had not been active became fearful and anxious, even when they were away from the aggressive mice.
What does this study mean for us? It suggests that regular physical activity prepares us to be resilient in the face of stress, instead of vulnerable to it. Getting moving alters the biochemistry of the brain – almost immediately – and boosts levels of “happy” chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
So while you may not be able to control the stress in your life, regular activity helps you take charge of your response to it. Moderate walking on a daily basis is enough to do it. So is taking the stairs or cleaning the house or doing a lap around the office.
Physical activity is a good prescription for caregivers and patients alike.
See more tips and support information for caregivers.