Afraid of Getting Depressed? Try Going For a Run.

Authors of a new study believe they've found why exercise helps protect from depression.

It's no secret that regular exercise can help protect you from depression. Authors of a new study published in the journal Cell believe they've found the reason why. The secret, they say, is found in a muscle enzyme called PCC-1alpha.


Gretchen Reynolds of The New York Times explains:

"A wealth of earlier research by these scientists and others had shown that aerobic exercise, in both mice and people, increases the production within muscles of an enzyme called PGC-1alpha. In particular, exercise raises levels of a specific subtype of the enzyme known unimaginatively as PGC-1alpha1. The Karolinska scientists suspected that this enzyme somehow creates conditions within the body that protect the brain against depression."

To test this hypothesis, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm bred special mice with abnormally high levels of PGC-1alpha1. (Scientists had previously taken another set of mice and made them "depressed" by exposing them over time to stimuli that caused the mice to lose weight and exhibit dispirited behaviors) The newly bred group displayed a boosted resilience to the noticeable effects of depression. 

The researchers then tested humans and found similar results: building up PGC-1alpha1 helped ward off depression. Whether exercising can be proven to help treat people already depressed remains to be seen, though one of the researchers told Reynolds that he's confident it would.

Read more at The New York Times

Read the whole study here

Photo credit: Warren Goldswain / Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less

Mini-brains attach to spinal cord and twitch muscles

A new method of growing mini-brains produces some startling results.

(Lancaster, et al)
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new and inexpensive way to keep organoids growing for a year.
  • Axons from the study's organoids attached themselves to embryonic mouse spinal cord cells.
  • The mini-brains took control of muscles connected to the spinal cords.
Keep reading Show less