REDUCING STRESS WITH EXERCISE – Maureen Dwight Registered Physiotherapist, Clinical Musculoskeletal Specialist.

If you need one more reason to exercise your core this recently published article may provide the scientific basis that will help to motivate you http://www.theatl. At times it’s a bit technical but the key message is that there are newly discovered pathways connecting the motor cortex – the part of your brain which produces movement,  to your adrenal glands – the organs which produce chemicals related to stress. In other words:

We are hardwired to use exercise to reduce stress.

Reducing stress with exercise

Up until now the reduction in stress from exercise has often been attributed to the psychological impact of relaxation.  Beginning in the 1950’s Dr. Hans Selye showed that body chemistry changed in relation to stress.  More recently Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn gained strong scientific support for Mindful Meditation, showing changes in blood chemistry resulted from performing his techniques. This more recent article shows that the relationship of exercise is much more than psychological. The existence of physical pathways means our nerves are direct connections which regulate the relationship between the movement center of our brain and our organs. Doing radical research, in what at times reads like a biological sci-fi thriller, this neuroscientist used the rabies neurotoxic virus to follow the pathways between these two systems.

The upshot is that strengthening your core is not only good physically, it also may have a greater effect on reducing stress than other types of exercise such as cardio or weightlifting. 

This conclusion is based on the number of connections between the core muscles represented in your brain and these glands.  This larger network of nerves suggests that there should be more to gain in relation to lowering your stress hormones by exercising these specific muscles. The key take away from this article:

Short of time? Focus on exercising your core to achieve stress relief. 

Getting on track

If your goal is to use exercise to reduce stress or if you are trying to get back to fitness after an injury our team can help you get on track.

  • Physiotherapy: Seeing one of our physiotherapists can be a helpful first step in avoiding injuries which can be caused by an over-enthusiastic start to a new program or unaddressed imbalances. An assessment will help you to determine which muscles to target and/or what to treat prior to beginning your fitness program.
  • Kinesiology: Once you are ready to get started on your fitness our Registered Kinesiologist, John Gray, can design a customized fitness program specific to your needs and goals. Focusing on your core will help you to build strength, reduce risk for re-injury, improve balance as well as helping you to manage the effects of stress.
  • Chiropractic: Need a gentle start? Our chiropractor Dr. Adonis Makris is a Master in Medical Qigong.
  • Therapeutic Yoga: Want to do Yoga safely? Joanna Miller, registered physiotherapist, combines her knowledge of physiotherapy and injury to help you to learn Yoga techniques to reduce injury.

Maureen Dwight is a registered physiotherapist working in downtown Toronto.  The Orthopaedic Therapy clinic frequently provides onsite and offsite workplace therapy and ergonomics.  Please contact us if your company would like to explore our education, treatment and/or ergonomic services or if you have or want to prevent repetitive strain injuries.

The advice in this article is not meant to replace advice from your health care professional.