The Stress-Busting Reason to Strengthen Your Core

Do you feel like “core work” is overhyped? If you’re not a high-performing athlete, is it really that important to have a strong core? The short answer: yes. But a healthy core is not just good for better posture or injury prevention (although it helps those, too). Believe or not, strengthening your core muscles can have a huge impact on managing your stress levels.

To put it simply, the connections between your brain and your adrenals (which are responsible for producing stress hormones) are more intricate than previously believed. The brain and the adrenals communicate with each other, yes, but they also interact with another part of the body: the core. Let’s get technical.

According to research published in 2016 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the motor cortex of the brain contains the equivalent of a map of our entire body—core muscles, arms, legs and face. But, interestingly, there is also a density of neurons that control the adrenals in that area of the cortex that directly relates to our core muscles.

So, when we activate our core, it can have a surprisingly soothing effect on our stress levels.

Young sporty woman doing pilates, fitness or yoga Plank pose

What?!

“Something about axial [core] control has an impact on stress responses,” said Peter Strick, one of the authors of the study. “There’s all this evidence that core strengthening has an impact on stress. And when you see somebody that’s depressed or stressed out, you notice changes in their posture. When you stand up straight, it has an effect on how you project yourself and how you feel. Well, lo and behold, core muscles have an impact on stress. And I suspect that if you activate core muscles inappropriately with poor posture, that’s going to have an impact on stress.”

So a strong core isn’t just going to make you physically healthier. It actually directly affects (and is affected by) your stress levels. Stress can lead to poor posture, and poor posture can increase feelings of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. Improve one, and you help the other.

Even if you’re not much of a fitness fanatic, doing a daily practice like a two-minute plank could potentially have a drastic impact on your stress levels—especially if you’re stuck at a desk all day. Or, better yet, take up a regular yoga or pilates practice, as recommended by the authors of the study. And remember: you don’t need the abs of a marble god or goddess to reap stress-busting benefits. Just keep your core strong, active and healthy. Your adrenals will thank you.

Related on Care2

Images via Getty

52 comments

Renata Kovacs
Renata Kovacs13 days ago

Thank you for sharing,

SEND
Renata Kovacs
Renata Kovacs13 days ago

ok.

SEND
Leo C
Leo Custer13 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Leo C
Leo Custer13 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Linda Wallace
Linda Wallace13 days ago

Thank you.

SEND
Edgar Z
Edgar Zuim13 days ago

Thanks

SEND
Andrea M
Aa M13 days ago

Thanks

SEND
Janis K
Janis K14 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Kathy K
Kathy K14 days ago

Thanks.

SEND
Mike R
Mike R14 days ago

Thanks

SEND