Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's disease as well as to improve cognition in healthy and cognitively impaired individuals. However, the mechanisms of these benefits are not well understood. The stress hypothesis suggests that the cognitive benefits attributed to exercise may partially be mediated by changes in the cortisol secretion pattern.
Elsevier, Neurobiology of Stress, Volume 8, February 2018
Stress is critically involved in the development and progression of disease. From the stress of undergoing treatments to facing your own mortality, the physiological processes that stress drives have a serious detrimental effect on the ability to heal, cope and maintain a positive quality of life. This is becoming increasingly clear in the case of neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases involve the devastating loss of cognitive and motor function which is stressful in itself, but can also disrupt neural circuits that mediate stress responses.