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#FitnessFacts: STRESS

December 04, 2013 2 min read

 

-Stress does not just affect emotions and moods- it is something that can have a very physical effect on the body.

-High levels of stress are linked to all kinds of health issues, including high blood pressure, impaired immunity, insomnia, migraines, decreased muscle, increased fat storage, type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, & even heart attack.

-The primary chemical the body releases during stress is called cortisol. Cortisol can have some positive benefits to the body, but constant high levels can be problematic.

-The body releases cortisol when it’s stressed as a safety precaution because it helps with the fight or flight response. It signals the release of glucose and fatty acids to the blood stream to provide energy for muscles.

-But too much cortisol can cause the body to increase storage of fat- specifically the kind that stores around the belly. It also increases carbohydrate cravings- which can lead to over eating.

-Excess cortisol can cause muscles to tense & the heart rate to increase- so it’s very common for people to get muscle tension or pain, as well as headaches or migraines.

-Stress can also cause muscles to break down, as well as negatively impact muscle recovery time & exercise performance.

-Stress can also negatively affect reproductive systems. Women can get longer menstrual cycles & worse PMS symptoms, & men can get decreased testosterone or erectile dysfunction.

-There are many ways to minimize the effect of stress on your body. The best way to start would be determining the sources of stress in your life & considering better ways of coping with the sources, or consider removing some completely if possible.

-Exercise is one of the best activities to help prevent the negative effects of stress. The increased circulation & calorie consumption burns off some excess cortisol, and can also allow for deeper sleep, which also decreases cortisol levels. Some other activites that can help are yoga, meditation, massage, sex, or recreational activities.


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