Research coming from University of California at Davis has shown how exercise reduces symptoms of depression and improves mental health. It specifically showed how short periods of intense exercise boost levels of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) – two common neurotransmitters involved with chemical messaging between neurons in the brain.


GABA is regulates our central nervous system, reducing excitability of neurons. It’s also associated with the regulation of muscle tone. Meanwhile, glutamate is involved with neural activation. Researchers saw increased levels of glutamate and GABA in people who exercised but not those who didn’t.


In looking at GABA production with exercise, we see ways stress and anxiety are minimized. EEG brain power neurons start firing across the brain on various frequencies. Aerobic exercise increases gray matter and optimizes white matter.


The study from UC Davis looked at volunteers before and after intense exercising on a stationary bike, hitting 80 to 85 percent of maximum heart rates, to measure levels of glutamate and GABA. The control group didn’t exercise at all.


Brain metabolism and exercise together become a dynamic duo in fighting depression. It’s especially useful in fighting against side effects from antidepressants. There’s a connection between glutamate, GABA, and depression. Those who are more depressed often show lower levels of glutamate and GABA. Since these two neurotransmitters are proven to increase with exercise, we’re able to restore our mental health back to normal. Exercise actually works out our brain much more than math or chess.


This is why sedentary lifestyles can have a negative impact on our health. Not only for our bodies, but for our brain and neurotransmitter production. For best results, not only can you change the types of exercising you do, but also change up the levels of aerobic intensity. The latest research shows that the brain benefits from short bursts of intense exercise for producing more glutamate and GABA. Of course, intense exercise might not work for everyone. Especially, if you’re just starting out or getting back into shape. Take it slow, but challenge yourself, and build yourself up. The goal is to be able to do intervals such as jog, sprint, jog, sprint, jog. Hitting that heart rate up in bursts will give us the best mental results.


Also, remember to keep a well balanced nutrition, especially when adding exercise to your daily routine. If you’re in the San Diego area and would like to improve your mental and physical health, contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can provide some helpful advice.