How Your Mind Affects Physical Health There’s no better feeling than meeting your fitness goals after weeks of routine and seeing the changes your body has undergone. Whether you’re basking in your new beach body or enjoying the sense of energy that comes with being in good health, the physical rewards of exercise are enticing. The benefits of maintaining your health are not just physical , however. A healthier body also makes for a healthier mind. In our increasingly fast-paced, multitasker's world, it’s easy for stress to go from manageable to overwhelming. Not all stress is necessarily bad for your mental health. Acute stress often referred to as being in a “fight or flight” state, can keep you alert when you need to react to something immediately. Severe stress can help someone leap to catch a glass falling off of a table or focus on finishing a down-to-the-wire assignment. When the pressure becomes constant or even just more frequent, is where the problems begin. The chemical source of stress and anxiety in the brain is a compound called cortisol . Everything from lack of sleep to mental overexertion or physical illness can cause the brain to synthesize more cortisol. Cortisol serves a practical purpose in readying the body for fight-or-flight situations but more often than not, it does more harm than good. Cortisol has been called “public enemy number 1” for mental health by Psychology Today contributor Christopher Bergland, and for good reason. While it can help someone get excited to face a threat or a challenge, it tends to linger in the body causing all sorts of nasty side effects. Buildup of cortisol in the blood stream can interfere with learning and memory function. It releases a surplus of oxygen in the brain that can kill brain cells, halts the development of new ones, and can lead to enduring anxiety. It doesn’t take a professional athlete’s workout regimen to reduce your stress and cortisol levels. In fact, some experts are coming to the conclusion that over-exercising may be so strenuous that it undoes the cortisol reducing effects of aerobic exercise. A state of constant exhaustion doesn't do the brain’s learning or memory capabilities any good either. Overtraining to the point of exhaustion over and over again has been found to reduce important neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which is responsible for the rewarding feeling after a good workout. Many professionals now recommend only about 20-30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise can be sufficient to maintain a healthy balance of cortisol. Regular exercise such as a leisurely walk, a bike around your neighborhood, or some quick calisthenics. Diet also plays a crucial role in your wellbeing from the neck up. Book learning isn’t the only means of working out the mind, and foods that are beneficial for the body often also do the brain a lot of favours. Leafy greens like spinach and kale have B-Vitamins that are great for reducing cortisol. Foods high in these vitamins have can even help to reduce obvious depression symptoms. Citrus fruits and other foods heavy in Vitamin-C slow down cortisol production. For something more on the filling side, good whole grain bread and lean protein meats can facilitate memory formation and offset fatigue and depression. Clearly, then moderate exercise will help boost your mood and keep you healthy! A win-win situation, indeed. About the Author: David Quenneville FHMatch, all-in-one `Business in a Box! If you're a professional this is for you, it’s always FREE to showcase your profile on FHMatch ! Empowering professionals to engage, manage and grow their client base - everything you need to get started in 3 min or less. |Merchant Payments| Unlimited - No Fee Booking, Invoicing & Messaging| Showcase Photos & Videos, Subsidized Insurance| Twitter , Facebook , Instagram , Pinterest , LinkedIn It's always free to have a profile - join now and enjoy your 1st 30 days as a Premium member on us, no credit card required!