Recent studies have shown that regular exercise is not only good for the body, but also good for the brain. In fact, lack of exercise may even account for that feeling of “fight or flight” you have when you are under severe stress. The next time you feel the urge to “flee,” choose a flight of stairs instead of the elevator. Going on a brisk walk or having a run will release endorphins and serotonin levels in your brain, helping to calm you down. Exercise also has a direct impact on the neurons that are involved in creating stress on a day-to-day basis.
Stress poses a tangible threat to the body’s equilibrium by raising cortisol levels. High cortisol levels can in turn cause feelings of anxiety, as well as raise blood pressure and heart rate. When people say, “don’t worry yourself sick,” they are usually talking about your physical health. But what they don’t know is that your mental state of being can directly impact your physical health.
In today’s hectic and fast-paced world, stress is unavoidable. We are consistently smacked over the head with a torrent of information and demands that leave us feeling run down, negative, and sometimes, hopeless. Just like the muscles in our bodies, the neurons in our brains that process our environment break down and build back up again. Each time they rebuild, they are stronger and more able to deal with certain stressful situations.
However, some people do not give themselves adequate time to rebuild these neurons. In fact, if you are feeling depressed, you may not even correlate the negative feelings you have with a need for your brain to repair itself.
Unlike other forms of stress, the stress of exercise is predictable and controllable. After all, you are the one initiating the action! After a good workout, your body is flooded with endorphins, and you feel a general sense of mastery and self confidence. Furthermore, exercise will allow the neurons in your brain to recover post workout, thus building stronger connections, and a stronger resistance against other types of stress.
Aerobic exercise helps to rid the body of toxins and helps muscles release pent up energy. It also helps rebuild neurons that raise the “trigger” point for life’s stresses. This means that the next time you are faced with a stressful situation, you will be able to keep your cool, because your body has been trained to handle stress in a positive way.
There are no doubts within the medical and scientific communities regarding the connection between the body and the mind. It makes sense, then, that keeping your body active and healthy will result in a greater sense of well being.
About the author: Jennifer Sunde is a freelance writer and editor who writes for and helps manage a site devoted to career opportunities in health care. She also writes for a variety of sites devoted to fashion careers, home improvement and auto insurance.
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