Ah stress you are a sneaky little bugger. I feel like everyone is stressed out about something but what is stress? We talk about it a lot but never really have a firm understanding of what’s going on. It’s like SPAM what exactly is it? Stress is considered to be an external pressure on an object or a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
I think most of us would agree that stress comes from the things we love as much as from the things we don’t (like paying bills and commuting) It comes from our jobs, outside pressures and families. Sometimes it can even come from our very own heads.
And all of that stressing out does have an affect not only on our personal well-being but also on our fitness. YES being chronically stressed out isn’t good for your health or for your fitness. While exercise has been shown to offset some of the bad about stress, there are also times when a good workout might be adding more injury than healing.
Exercise is a great way to stave off the effects of stress. Moving, especially outside gives us back a connection to the world around us, it gives us some balance and level. And even a 10 minute walk can help fight off the effects of the stress on the body.
And there are times when stress can give us that extra energy boost to push through our workout. But there are also those times when your workout can turn into stress and not help you manage either problem.
Stress can throw off your fitness
When we find ourselves stressed about family, work and other things we don’t realize that if effects ALL body functions. This includes balance and recovery. So if you’re working out when stressed you can increase your chance of injury and also be sore for much longer after the workout. Workouts themselves are considered stress but not in the traditional way we now consider stress. Workouts ask muscles and body systems to workout together for optimum results. To achieve this cohesive unity the body reacts as if slightly stressed. Adding to an already stressed body this could result in less than desired consequences.
Sometimes when your stressed out, it’s better for the body to have some tea, work on breathing techniques, (can you do this for 2 minutes?) or catch up on some extra sleep to offset your stress?
High Intensity Workout and high output cardio sessions are two areas that can really mess with our bodies if we are already stressed, they trigger that flight or fight response and compound the bad about stress, and instead of removing the stressors add to the stress.
Cortisol: Ugh Cortisol.
Not losing weight but working out everyday? Stress can also lead to increased cardiovascular risk, but it can also lead to increased belly fat and weight gain. Stress alters the way fat is deposited because of the specific hormones and other chemicals your body produces—a primary one being cortisol. Gross just NOT what we want. Cortisol is a steroid hormone and is made in the adrenal glands that is naturally occurring but goes into over production under stress.
Cortisol isn’t 100% to blame for not reaching our fitness goals but stress does cause a rise in cortisol levels during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar then drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods. So removing the stress from your life can help you reach your fitness goals.
And this is why we need to listen to our bodies. The body is amazing system that always alerts us to how our bodies are feeling and what they need, although usually we are really bad a recognizing what our bodies need.
If you’re tired and barely making it though a workout, or feeling run down, rest and recovery might be a better option then a HIIT class or 10 mile run. In converse if you’re feeling disconnected and distant it might be good to take in a fun, energy packed fitness class to increase your endorphin levels.
Stress has different effects on each person, if you feel like you’re having a hard time managing stress it is always a good idea to consult a physician and discuss with a medical professional your specific situation.
Question of the Day: Can you do nothing for 2 minutes? How do you manage stress?