Tired of keeping up with the Joneses? Maybe you should just hit the gym, one study suggests. The study examined the link between aerobic exercise and dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that has been linked with reward.
In a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers from Berlin, Germany asked volunteers to either perform 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on a treadmill by running or 30 minutes of anaerobic exercise by stretching.
One hour later, researchers asked all of the participants to play a game where they had to quickly press buttons in order to gain or lose 1 euro.
Researchers found that the participants who had run earlier activated less dopamine when they won a euro in the game compared to the other group, an effect that held true even for those who did not exercise habitually before the trial. The brain did not react any differently than the other group when participants lost a euro, however.
The researchers concluded that exercise blunts the brain's response to money. However, the effect only held for a few hours - which is probably good because ultimately, most of us need to earn a living.
This is not the first time that exercise has been shown to affect the body's response to stimuli. A September study from researchers in Australia found that aerobic exercise lowers the body's feeling of hunger. That study, published in the journal Metabolism, asked 33 inactive overweight and obese men to maintain their normal sedentary routines, perform aerobic training, and resistance training, all over the course of 12 weeks.
Research published last year in Obesity Reviews found that exercise lowered participants' motivation to eat. The researchers, from the United States and Spain, found that physical activity may encourage healthier eating because the brain seems to change in order to cut back on impulsive behavior.