First came end orphins, those home-grown opioids or painkillers that produce a “runner’s high.” Then came the endocannabinoids, the pleasure-inducing molecules released during hard workouts that turn exercise nuts into gym rats. Now, decades after scientists first speculated on the effects of physical activity on the brain, Swedish researchers have discovered a new reason for lacing up those sneakers:

Exercise not only feels good, it may also protect the brain from depression.

In mouse studies at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, neuroscientists showed that exercise helped rid the body of kynurenine, a stress-induced amino acid associated with mental illness.

 

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