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Month: September 2015

Stress is Shrinking Your Brain, Changing Its Structure

The Good News: Exercise Can Literally Rebuild Brain Tissue

Brainstorm

The more we learn about stress, the more we learn about it’s destructive potential. We observe how it affects your emotional and physical reactivity.

You get cranky and irritable. You become anxious. Your energy level drops. These observations are fairly straightforward and obvious. The research is demonstrating how it actually shrinks you brain. You can literally be “losing your mind”.

Here you will learn about some of those effects as well as how exercise can protect you from the effects of stress as well as actually repair the damage. Very cool.

Check out this article to learn the details and how just a little exercise goes a long way.

Stress is affecting your brain much more than you think. Sure, you’ve experienced the distraction, forgetfulness, negativity or anxiety that comes from stressful situations, but did you know it’s also shrinking your brain? Hormones released in response to stress not only affect brain function, they also change the physical structure of your brain.

The stress hormone cortisol can kill, shrink, and stop the generation of new neurons in a portion of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is critical for learning, memory and emotional regulation, as well as shutting off the stress response after a stressful event is over: all much-needed processes in both our professional and personal lives.

Chronic stress can also shrink the medial prefrontal cortex. This negatively affects decision making, working memory, and control of impulsive behavior.These brain alterations can have significant consequences on the way we interact with others, our ability to learn, remember, make decisions and accomplish long-term goals. They also make it more difficult to successfully manage stressful situations in the future, leading to a vicious cycle.

Fortunately, we’ve discovered a very effective antidote to these negative effects: exercise. Exercise can help build a stress-resistant brain in addition to increasing cognitive function and brain size. Exercise helps spur the release of a substance called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps in the development of healthy brain tissue and reverses the negative effects of stress.  Think of it as fertilizer for the brain. It keeps existing neurons vital and healthy and also encourages the growth of new ones.

And thankfully you don’t have to do hour-long workouts to get many of these benefits. A recent analysis of 10 studies found that five-minute doses of exercise have the biggest effect on enhancing mood and combating stress. (7) Whenever you have a few minutes, do something that gets your heart rate up and/or challenges your muscles. It’s a positive, constructive way to deal with stress and can help keep you from losing your mind!

 

Read the entire article here…this will also give you access to the research on which it is based.