Stress and Exercise

Acute, short-term stress is good for you. Chronic stress is not good for you , this can lead to high blood pressure, a tight chest, anxiety, sleepless nights, IBS, stomach cramps, panic attacks, lower concentration and even lower IQ.

In the middle of your brain is your amygdala [e] a primitive part of the brain, responsible for rapid decision-making and emotional reactions, sometimes called the monkey brain or the inner chimp. To give you an idea of how quickly the amygdala can react, if you see a threat, like a snake, this image will be relayed to your amygdala in .03 of a second and you will release adrenaline in 0.06 of a second. Your thinking brain [ie your slow cognitive human brain] will not be able to receive this information for .9 of a second let alone be able to process it.


When you feel threatened you release adrenaline and this increases heart rate, heightens muscle tension, dilates pupils, quickens your breathing, makes you sweat, draws blood away from your stomach and can loosen your bowels… to name a few , this is so you have every possible advantage in running or fighting. What we are saying is that your body will react before you are even conscious of the threat.

We are designed for the Savanna; in fact this part of our brain is in most complex vertebrates, it is an ancient structure, and whilst it is small it has a disproportionate power over our decision-making and emotions. What’s more it can not tell the difference between a snake and a threatening email from your boss.

Ok so imagine someone walks towards you on the street with a knife, you will release adrenaline; you may run, you may confront the individual. You may walk on trying not to be noticed… any which way you will be primed to use up the adrenaline, and you will be able to use it up.

Now imagine you are at your desk, you receive an email from your boss saying they want to discuss some work you have already done, but not until tomorrow. You may naturally release a small amount of adrenaline. Then you receive an email from your client saying they no longer want to do a deal, another small dose of adrenaline. Then your partner calls up your car has failed its MOT.. and so on you may get 15 – 20 small doses of adrenaline in a day. Yet there is no reason why we should move, why would you go for a run just because your boss wants to have a meeting tomorrow?

However these little doses of adrenaline are doing exactly the same [physiologically] to you as when you saw the knife, or the snake, or the sabre tooth tiger and these effects over a longer period can cause chronic illness: so adrenaline can increases heart rate, which could over time lead to panic attacks sleepless nights and high blood pressure. Heightens muscle tension this can lead to head aches and shoulder pain and maybe chest tightness. Quickens your breathing this over a long period can make you feel nauseous and faint. Draws blood away from your stomach and can loosen your bowels… this could produce stomach pain or even IBS. What’s more adrenaline draws blood from your thinking brain, this can reduce creativity and effect memory.

If you can build exercise into your daily routine, the recommendation and most studies use 5 x 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise this will burn off the adrenaline and stop it from becoming chronic; the results are dramatic and long term. The fitness training we do at One element is slightly higher intensity but is a superb way to burn off the adrenaline. Or you might want to try the 12 day Reset program and see how these simple exercises can transform how you feel.