Ever sat on the couch feeling guilty about not being active yet unable to find the motivation to do something about it?

 

Walk More to Prevent Trips to the Hospital

Blame your dorsal medial habenula say University of Washington researchers.

While Americans cite lack of time as their primary reason for not exercising, lack of motivation ranks a close second. We consistently promote the TrekDesk Treadmill Desk as an antidote for both of these reasons and have always been curious as to whether a certain region of the brain had any effect on the motivational aspects.

We would especially enjoy seeing studies that show whether walking while you work would stimulate the dorsal medial habenula explaining why many of users feel energized at the end of the day rather than exhausted. We confess that we also just like to say dorsal medial habenula, so more studies in this area would allow us to do that.

This is actually serious science however. Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute recently discovered this area of the brain and its impact on an individual’s (mice) motivation to exercise and engage in other positive activities, possibly leading down-road to potential treatments for depression.

We would like to see immediate studies into the impact of walking on this area of the brain since it has already been established that walking is often a more effective prescription for depression than any of the normally prescribed anti-depressants in use today.

"Changes in physical activity and the inability to enjoy rewarding or pleasurable experiences are two hallmarks of major depression," lead researcher Dr. Eric Turner stated. "But the brain pathways responsible for exercise motivation have not been well understood. Now, we can seek ways to manipulate activity within this specific area of the brain without impacting the rest of the brain's activity."

His study compared mice with normal functioning signals from the dorsal medial habenula area of the brains with those with blocked signals. The mice with their signals blocked from this area of the brain lost their impulse to exercise and even their ability to enjoy sweetened drinking water. Lethargy and an inability to find joy in normally stimulative events are hallmarks of depression so blocking the DMH created some really sad mice it appears.

Now the question we hope scientists explore is the chicken/egg sequence of this question. Does the dorsal medial habenula decrease in size and signaling strength among individuals who are presently sedentary and at what dose of exercise can it be brought back to normal operating capacity?


These are exciting times in the study of the brain and we hope that the focus is not entirely on the development of drugs to overcome specific deficiencies but also include an exhaustive analysis of how the body heals itself with more natural therapies such as exercise.

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