Monday, September 26, 2016

Stress, Mindfulness, Brain Changes, Inflammation...and Exercise (Updated)

A small puzzle piece added into my master map: exercise (just the basics for now). See right-hand side.

Exercise is interesting in that it is both a stressor (given that your body doesn't distinguish between physical/emotional/psychological stress in terms of the physiologic response) - and will thus contribute somewhat to the HPA axis/SNS cascade, as well as accumulation of ROS. However, in terms of exercise-induced ROS - we need them as the stimulus for muscle adaptation. Many, many recent studies show that while supplementing with antioxidants does reduced ROS, it also blunts the exact musculoskeletal adaptations you're trying to produce with exercise.

And that's why we talk about "eustress" vs "distress."

I've also thrown in the exercise -> mindfulness link, although I believe this is going to depend on the individual. For many (especially the iconic endurance athlete - the lone ultrarunner out in nature, the long distance open water swimmer), exercise is essentially moving meditation, and will hopefully take you down the same stress-reduction/SNS-quieting physiologic pathway in your daily life as, say, a sitting body-scan mindfulness exercise.


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