Anyone that treats back pain knows that mental stress is a primary cause. Mental stress causes muscle tension, which can result in headaches, neck pain, upper and lower back pain, and more.
Certain stresses (and chronic stress) can also trigger your " fight or flight " biological response which can cause the release of stress hormones that are detrimental to your health and well being and can also lead to back pain. Stress is bad news.
The good news is...one of the best ways to counteract stress, and stress related back pain, is Exercise.
you exercise to tone your thighs, build your biceps, or flatten your belly. Or
maybe you work out to ward off the big killers like heart disease ,
diabetes , and
cancer . But how
about sweating to improve your mind? "Exercise is the single best thing
you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning," says HarvardMedicalSchool
psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark:
The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. "Even
10 minutes of activity changes your brain." If you need a little extra
incentive to lace up those sneakers, here are five ways that exercise can
enhance your brainpower:
1. It reverses
the detrimental effects of stress. Jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30
minutes can be an instant way to blow off tension by boosting levels of
"soothing" brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
What's fascinating, though, is that exercise may actually work on a cellular
level to reverse stress's toll on our aging process, according to a June study
from the University of California at San
Francisco. The researchers found that stressed-out
women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day
period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were
stressed and not active. Working out also helps keep us from ruminating
"by altering blood flow to those areas in the brain involved in triggering
us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again," says study
coauthor Elissa Epel, an associate professor of psychiatry at UCSF
My Take: I can't think of anything that gives you more bang for the buck than regular exercise. All you have to do is get to the gym or exercise at home 3-4 days per week, and your body takes care of the rest. And most people have complete control over whether they exercise or not. It usually comes down to a choice between the TV and the couch or the gym (or your garage). Make it happen!