You may have heard that exercise is a great way to relieve stress and clear your mind but do you know why? Though more research is required to better understand the relationship, studies continue to show that exercise brings mental clarity, in part, due to increased blood flow throughout the body, by which more oxygen and energy is supplied to the brain. Additionally, the hippocampus (critical for memory and learning) is very active during physical activity and – with the neurons firing up in the hippocampus – cognitive function is found to improve.1 According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise helps improve cognitive function because physical activity helps reduce fatigue and improves alertness, concentration and your quality of sleep – neat!
When we feel stressed, our bodies experience increased levels of Cortisol. Cortisol is a stress-hormone that decreases metabolism, immune-response, bone-density and muscle tissue, and increases blood-pressure and abdominal fat. However, did you know you can counter the effects of Cortisol with Endorphins? Endorphins fight Cortisol, alleviate pain and stimulate the production of dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical in our brains. So, how can we increase the production of Endorphins to battle Cortisol? Since Endorphins are naturally produced in response to exercise, the answer is easy – get moving!