Your Brain and Exercise (Part 1 of 3): Defeating Stress Epic Style

FITNESS_sunshine run

“Bow your head now, mighty warrior and prepare to receive your just reward for the incredible valor shown on this day.” The King stood above the kneeling knight, his arms raised up signaling to the crowd in the Great Hall to be silent as the ceremony progressed.

All who were left standing had come to witness the celebration. This man before them had slain the mightiest beast the land had ever seen. And he had done it with conviction and bravery to the likes of which the kingdom had sorely been lacking in for decades. Nary a soul in the place, not even the king himself, knew the man's name. His face was as mysterious as his fateful appearance when they needed it the most.

“I present you, kind sir, with the ancient mythril armor of the ancient ones.” The King turned to the squire at his side and picked up the magnificent chest plate the young boy was holding for him. It bore a resemblance to the heaviest, mightiest steel in all the land yet alas, it weighted mere ounces in his finger tips. “There is not a mortal blade nor known weapon that can pierce this armor. It was the pride of the kingdom and now it is yours.”

The King waived for the warrior to rise and accept the gift. He stood, exposing his almost seven foot frame to the gasp of the crowd. Free flowing brown hair surrounded his ears and almost covered the man's bright blue eyes.

“You have saved us from the stone beast and yet we do not even know your name stranger,” the King looked at him, waiting for an answer.

“My name is Fillious, your excellency. I come from way up north, beyond your borders. As to why I am here, I ask that remain my business, however while I am here, I am in your service.”

It will always pile up. Bad things happen in three's. When it rains , its pours. They are all TRUE. Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. You know it. It doesn't bare repeating. Just hearing the word stress probably sent you back to something that happened today at the office or with the kids and your blood pressure ticked up a bit.

Now, imagine for one second if there was a way to make your skin thicker (I'm talking metaphorically). Envision a day when it wouldn't matter to you as much if your boss tore you up or your spouse was in a foul mood. Can you feel that “plate of armor” slipping over your body to ward off the negative effects of stress?

Well, there is a way to help your mind block the harmful “rays” of stress sunshine. EXERCISE.

The part of your brain that handles anxiety related feeling is called the hippocampus. Scientists in a recent study showed that rats who ran hard before their “cold water” tests weren't anywhere near as bothered by the stress. If they actually exercised before they were dropped in a bucket of ice cold H2O, they were calmer.

If they were dunked in without any pre-physical stimulation, they flailed around like a bunch of wet noodles. The physical activity regulated the hippocampus, keeping its receptors in check, according to brain scans of the rats. In other words, the more you exercise, the better your brain can deal with high intensity situations.

Scientist Peter Salmon of the University of Liverpool did a massive research paper on this one topic and came to this conclusion, “Results of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies are more consistent in indicating that aerobic exercise training has antidepressant and anxiolytic effects and protects against harmful consequences of stress.”

Wouldn't it be nice to have a magic shield or a plate of armor to ward off stress and anxiety? You do. Its called exercise. There are many more reasons to exercise but at least you know while we are exploring all of them here, you won't lose your mind. So “suit up” with those gym shorts and get ready to conquer the world. Leave a comment and let us know how it goes!

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