Stressed? Time to Sweat It Out!

Feeling stressed? You’re not alone.

Stress is an inevitable part of our modern existence. Whether you’re the CEO of a large company, a Kindergarten teacher or a construction worker, you have stress to deal with. We all have bills to pay, relationships to maintain and challenges to get through.

But you don’t have to let it get the best of you. Cortisol has been termed the “stress hormone” because excess cortisol is secreted during times stress. This altered pattern of cortisol secretion can promote weight gain and even alter where you store your weight. Some studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than in the hips. This fat deposition has been referred to as “toxic fat” since abdominal fat is strongly linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases. How can you turn your stress-filled life on its head?

With one of the best weapons against stress and excess cortisol: EXERCISE.

When stress is getting you down, you need something to kick you out of your funk. You need something that makes you feel good.

Every time you exercise, you increase your body’s production of endorphins.

In case you have forgotten, endorphins are responsible for those good moods you get in after a race or the euphoria you feel while chomping down on a piece of chocolate.

Because cortisol is released in response to stress, regular exercise will increase the threshold of cortisol release. The more training you do, the better your body will become at dealing with physical stresses and decrease the need to release cortisol. This effect is not limited to exercise; people who are regularly active show a decreased cortisol response to an emotional crisis when compared to sedentary controls.

Any and all exercise you perform helps you fend off the effects of stress. So whether you enjoy jogging, lifting weights, playing basketball, practicing ballet, swimming, yoga, rowing, or boxing, simply getting involved in your exercise of choice is sure to help reduce your stress.

Through the Brick Wall: If you are working out every day and not getting the stress relief you want then it’s time to do things a little different. If all you do is lift weights five days a week, you should add in tennis or racquetball a couple days a week. And if you’re all cardio all the time, it may be time to get off the treadmill and grab a dumbbell or two.

Still not working? Keep a diary of your progression. Write down how long and hard you exercise, the various weights you lift, and the steps you make toward whatever health goal you set for yourself. Take pictures along the way as well. Then look back over your journal on occasion. Seeing the progression when you feel you’re not making progress may give you the confidence you need to put stress in its place and move on.

Rethinking your “active” lifestyle? No worries…… lace up those shoes and enjoy the day!

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