Stress versus workouts
Stressed , feeling low – hit the gym !!!!
We have often heard it said - exercising relaxes us, elevates our moods ,makes us feel happy and vibrant..
How does it happen, how can science define it? Well it happens via the brain chemical circuits, the various chemicals and hormones are stimulated differently when we are stressed and differently when we are active.
While we exercise the heart pounds and this stimulates certain brain circuits which work to make us healthy both mentally and physically.
The neurophysiology involved is that when we are worried and stressed, the Hypothalamus in the brain picks up the stress stimulus and stimulates the production of the two stress hormones, the Cortisone and the Adrenaline.
Cortisone affects the mood, motivation and fears, alters the immune response and the digestive functions.
Adrenaline raises the heart rate and the blood pressure, rightly called the flight and fight system.
But once we are on the go, the increased muscular activity and heart function stimulates a different brain chemical response, various chemical agents are released which lead to an increased feeling of well being. The various agents involved are:
- Nor-adrenaline- a neurotransmitter primarily involved in the feel good effect and boosts decision making.
- Dopamine – responsible for the feeling of relaxation and ecstasy, a neurotransmitter which controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centres.
- GABA- a calming neurotransmitter released during exercise builds immunity to stress.
- Serotonin - a neurotransmitter which helps boost peacefulness and hope, positivity. Their levels are greatly boosted by exercises and low levels are linked to depression.
- Other factors stimulated by exercises are Endorphins which mainly reduce pain but also produce maximum euphoria; its levels see a surge during the initial phase of exercising itself. Neurotrophic factors protect the brain from emotional disorders by repairing the damage by the mental trauma.
All of these explain that exercising stimulates the” feel good” mechanism of the brain and these two together stimulate the production of antibodies which are the defence agents of the body fighting infections and diseases.
A few hours of physical activity does a lot to fight bad mood and help develop a stronger approach to stress which if left to itself can end up with heart diseases, sleep disorders, digestive problems and also reduced mental efficiency.
But beware of over doing it too, as the body needs to repair itself after every session, failing which the immune functions may get compromised.