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Int J Sports Med. 2004 Jan;25(1):78-82.

Chronic physical exercise reduces anxiety-like behavior in rats.

Author information

1
Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, 1300 Wheat Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.

Abstract

While many individuals with anxiety disorders receive drug therapy, many do not respond or adversely respond to drugs. An alternative treatment, exercise, has been shown to relieve negative feelings and induce positive shifts in mood. The purpose of this study was to establish an animal model to specifically test the effects of chronic physical exercise on anxiety-related behaviors. Thirty-two male Sprague Dawley rats were divided into two groups: runners (R) and nonrunners (NR). Runners ran on a treadmill for 45 minutes a day, five days a week, for ten weeks at a moderate intensity. Nonrunners remained in their cages in the treadmill room during the running period and were handled for an equal amount of time. After ten weeks of training, two behavioral tests were administered including the elevated plus maze and open field tests. Results comparing R and NR showed higher responses by R in percent open arm time and center square time during the elevated plus maze test, as well as in number of entries into the center, number of rears, and lower fecal boli count during the open field test, p < 0.05. In addition, there were no differences in total activity levels between groups as indicated by similar closed arm entries in the elevated plus maze test and total lines crossed in the open field test. These results indicate that treadmill training reduces anxiety-like behaviors in two animal tests of anxiety, without a significant change in total activity levels. These data are in support of treadmill training as a model to test the anxiolytic effects of exercise.

PMID:
14750018
DOI:
10.1055/s-2003-45235
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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