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An Active Body Makes For a Calm Mind

By Jenni Sunde

Regular exercise is not just good for the body, but for the brain as well. Over the years extensive research has shown that there is a detailed science behind this fact. Perhaps when you are stressed it is not uncommon to have the urge to “pound some pavement,” going for a run to release some of the tension you are feeling. This release is not just a result of your personality type - some people think that getting regular exercise as a means to cultivate greater psychological health is a component of a personality type. This is not so. Exercise helps to deal with stress because it has a direct impact on the neurons involved in processing the stress you experience in a day. But this is not just about science, it is also about feeling good and centered in your day-to-day life.

messy desk Stress is defined as a threat to the body’s equilibrium. This can be a lot of things - stress from meeting new people, starting a new job, waiting in line for your morning coffee - stress is a built-in part of life. In today’s modern society we are constantly hit with a streaming torrent of tragedy and demands flashing at us from an array of digital displays, which keeps the brain flying. This onslaught of information and fast-paced living often leaves us feeling negative, hectic, and hopeless. Much like muscles, the neurons that process our stressful environment are torn down and built back up again. Each time they rebuild, they become stronger and more capable of handling our environment.

The issue is that most people don’t provide adequate time for their neurons to repair themselves. This is particularly true of individuals with extremely busy lifestyles; the last thing they leave time for is space to unwind. The signs that the brain is struggling to keep up with the busy pace of your life is not as apparent as with muscles, which communicate by becoming sore and a bit painful. Our brain’s sign for need of recovery manifests in a general feeling of crappiness without a link to a specific source. Most people do not correlate negative feelings with a need to give the brain time to repair, because they aren’t aware of what is actually happening.

playing soccer Regular exercise is one of the simplest ways to maintain a positive attitude and a sense of contentedness in life. While exercise is actually another form of stress, it has some extremely helpful components for helping you to learn to process other stress. Exercise works to relieve stress and promote calm in three ways:

  • Assuming that the exercise is not too severe, the neurons in the brain are able to recover post workout and thus rebuild stronger connections. These stronger connections mean that your mental machinery works better.
  • The stress of exercise is predictable and controllable because you are the one initiating the action. Psychologically, a good workout leaves you with a sense of mastery and self confidence which is not always the case with other stresses.
  • Regular aerobic activity calms the body by ridding it of toxins and helping muscles to release pent up energy of all kinds. By calming the body you enable your neurons to rebuild and as they get stronger you raise the trigger point of physical reactions to stress. In other words, habitual and frequent aerobic exercise builds up your resistance to life’s stresses, which means you are better at keeping calm and feeling good in situations that may otherwise leave you feeling drained and a bit down.

The mind, body and spirit are undoubtedly connected. This connection is not only felt on a personal and psychological level, but is also supported with scientific fact. By keeping your body active and healthy you will also have a healthier and more at ease mind. Just another reason to stay fit- it makes it so much easier to keep smiling, and mean it.

About the Author

Jenni Sunde is a freelance fashion writer and pop culture junkie. Jenni specializes in all things lifestyle-related. From home and design to health and beauty. With her love of art and all things beautiful, she delights in sharing her sense of style from her life to your computer monitor. Her title pegs her as an editor at a website that specializes in providing people with auto insurance quotes, but her passion leads her into writing with a little more substance and a lot more heart.


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andrew wilby says:

I believe that if you are stressed at football because you cant do it, then carying on is only going to make it worse!

sunny says:

Hi Andrew,
Football can be stressful, that’s true, but if you play football just for fun, although challenging for the body, it should be relaxing for the mind.

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