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UMD study shows exercise may protect against future emotional stress
Date:9/13/2012

research) for ~20 minutes, the anxiety levels of those who had simply rested went back up to their initial levels, whereas those who had exercised maintained their reduced anxiety levels.

"The set of photographic stimuli we used from the IAPS database was designed to simulate the range of emotional events you might experience in daily life," Smith explains. "They represent pleasant emotional events, neutral events and unpleasant events or stimuli. These vary from pictures of babies, families, puppies and appetizing food items, to very neutral things like plates, cups, furniture and city landscapes, to very unpleasant images of violence, mutilations and other gruesome things."

The study findings suggest that exercise may play an important role in helping people to better endure life's daily anxieties and stressors.

Smith plans to explore if exercise could have the same persistent beneficial effect in patients who regularly experience anxiety and depression symptoms. In collaboration with the new Maryland Neuroimaging Center, he is also exploring the addition of functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to measure brain activity during the period of exposure to emotionally stimulating images to see how exercise may alter the brain's emotion-related neural networks.

Smith also investigates the role of exercise in preventing cognitive decline in older adults. His research has shown that physical activity promotes changes in the brain that may protect those at high risk for Alzheimer's disease.


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Contact: Kelly Blake
kellyb@umd.edu
301-405-9418
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert

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