Even Compulsory Exercise Reduces Stress
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Research from the US has shown that even when people are forced to exercise – rather than voluntarily doing so – they can benefit from reduced anxiety and depression.
Although previous research has proven the stress reducing benefits of physical exercise, this has also been linked to the sense of control that comes with the voluntary decision to exercise. Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, carried out their new research to determine whether unwilling exercisers also experienced the improvements in mood; ‘It's obvious that forced exercise will still produce peripheral physiological benefits. But will it produce benefits to anxiety and depression?’ asked Benjamin Greenwood, an assistant research professor in CU-Boulder's Department of Integrative Physiology.
School children, professional athletes, members of the military and patients whose doctors have prescribed them exercise could potentially fall into the category of being ‘forced’ to workout, according to Greenwood. For their study, however, a group of rats were thus categorised, with one group being forced to run on a wheel according to a schedule, another running when they chose to, and a third control group remaining sedentary.
‘Regardless of whether the rats chose to run or were forced to run they were protected against stress and anxiety’ said Greenwood.
Source: European Journal of Neuroscience
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