Why One Neuroscientist Started Blasting His Core


A new anatomical understanding of how movement controls the body’s stress response system

Read the full article at: www.theatlantic.com

This is an amazing study that provides actual physiological evidence that yoga and other forms of exercise that focus on the core or axial musculature have an identifiable effect on stress mechanisms.  A team of Neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh identified direct connections from the areas of the brain that control movement, strength, and stability in the axial skeleton (the “core”) to the adrenal glands, which mediate the stress response.

Why is this finding so exciting?  Here’s why.

The effects of exercise on stress and sense of well-being are well-documented and usually limited to discussions about endorphins,  mindfulness, “runner’s high”, or some sort of nonspecific relaxation response (i.e. a higher cortical cognitive effect on stress).  For example, this Harvard psychologist showed a sad movie clip to 2 groups, one who went for a run first, the other who just stretched.   The runners recovered more quickly from the effects of the sad video.  This response is usually attributed to changes in the frontal or prefrontal cortex, which is the “executive” part of the brain, responsible for clearly considering options and planning ahead – so exercise clears your head.

The Pittsburgh study is something completely new – a direct neurochemical explanation – the first direct physiological connection between the actual motor areas in the brain that control the axial muscles and the adrenal glands – the focal point of the stress response.

The findings may also explain why posture has been shown to affect mood and memory.

When you consider that the bulk of your muscle fibers and mitochondria are located in your deep core muscles – this is a great argument to move away from repetitive, linear, core-stabilized, one-dimensional, isolation moves that focus on peripheral musculature and instead switch to exercises that stimulate the maximum number of deep core fibers, in multiple planes and dimensions, in the least amount of time.

This approach will not only give you all the stress-reducing benefits noted in this article in the Atlantic, but will also boost your metabolism in ways that standard cardio or strength training will never achieve.


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