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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Key Stress Fighters- Exercise and Sex

So, I was perusing the most recent AARP magazine and came across an article by Dr. Mehmet Oz called "Sex on the Brain". Needless to say it caught my attention! His article was really addressing how we all tend to live under too much stress- 40% of Americans say they lie awake at night because of stress, for instance. When we are stressed we produce cortisol. Too much stress leads to too much production of cortisol which can be harmful to our health. Cortisol puts too much strain on the heart and now scientists have discovered, on the brain as well. It has been found that excess cortisol suppresses the brain's ability to create and support new brain cells- neurogenesis. This is really bad news for people over 50!

What is the solution to counter stress and the excess creation of cortisol? Exercise and Sex. Both over time decrease the production of cortisol, boost neurogenesis by increasing blood flow to the brain, and also seem to create more resilient brain cells. In order for us to reduce the production of cortisol we have to be consistent in our exercise and sexual activity. I was amused, though, that Dr. Oz quantified the sexual activity as "multiple sexual experiences, daily over two weeks, reduced the release of cortisol, increased neurogenesis, and decreased anxiety-like behavior."  Something to aspire to, I suppose...

Truly it is all about tending to ourselves, mind and body. No one activity is the solution. It needs to be a combination of exercise, sex, yoga or any other combination of focused and consistent physical activity. I find these kind of articles encouraging and motivating to keep up the pace and continue enjoying all ways.

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