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Hard Exercise Can Boost Brain Chemicals Sapped by Depression


Feb. 28, 2016 Psych Central

A new imaging study shows that intense exercise boosts two critical neurotransmitters — glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) — resulting in better mental fitness.

Published in The Journal of Neuroscience, the study’s findings offer new insights into why exercise could become an important part of treating depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders linked with deficiencies in neurotransmitters, which drive communications between the brain cells that regulate physical and emotional health.

“Major depressive disorder is often characterized by depleted glutamate and GABA, which return to normal when mental health is restored,” said lead author Dr. Richard Maddock, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California Davis Health System.

“Our study shows that exercise activates the metabolic pathway that replenishes these neurotransmitters.”

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