Fitness on film
Video LibraryFor more videos, CLICK HERE
When we are anxious our adrenal glands release the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. This helps our bodies to deal with the immediate crisis that we’re facing and also helps to protect us in situations of great danger. Once the hormones are released our heart rates increase, our digestive and immune systems are lowered and our blood glucose levels are increased to give us much needed energy and to decrease our ability to rest. This is all fantastic as long as it’s only for short periods of time; unfortunately in today’s high pressured world this often not the case. So please read on to find out how prolonged stress can affect your long term health:
Makes you fat
American research indicates that continuously raised cortisol levels can result in obesity, especially in women and those who are depressed. There have also been numerous studies into fat being deposited around the stomach and heart area through continuously raised cortisol levels; this puts the individuals involved in a higher heart disease risk category than those who deposit fat on their hips and thighs.
Lowers Immune system
Recent research shows us that long term stress lowers our immune system. Not only can this make us more susceptible to long term illness’s like cancer’s that are caused by viruses e.g. cervical cancer, lymphoma and some liver cancers. It can make us more vulnerable to colds and flu, this in turn increase’s our stress load through time needed off of work, increased work load and decreased wages.
Because cortisol affects the genes that control the narrowing of blood vessels, continuous stress may mean that the blood vessels remain narrow for longer periods. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It addition, the secretion of adrenalin increases the amount of fatty acids that are in the blood, this may lead to them being deposited on arteries walls which in turn restrict the amount of oxygenated blood flowing to the heart.
Stress can affect the functioning of the hypothalamus, the gland in the brain that regulates hormones that are required to produce testosterone in men and release eggs in women. This can result in men and women having less sex drive and women ovulating later in their cycle or not at all. This condition is referred to as ‘stress-induced anovulation’.
Cortisol has been shown to damage and kill cells in the hippocampus(the area of the brain that is responsible for memory) and there is evidence that chronic stress can cause premature brain ageing. Even short term stress can damage and disrupt the process by which your brain collects and stores memories. Stress also makes your brain more vulnerable to damage such as strokes.
Having read and absorbed all of the above information, you now have no excuse other than to get exercising. It doesn’t have to be for long periods of time or particularly intense, you just need your brain to trigger the release of the stress defeating hormone ‘serotonin’ and this will relax the mind, lower your blood pressure and decrease the amounts of cortisol and adrenalin within your body.
Here are a few suggestions:
Dance Classes – particularly zumba, latin american or ball room.
Mind, body, spirit – yoga, pilates, tai chi or qi gong.
Short of time? – 5 min of focused deep breathing, 10 min of skipping or interval running or a fast paced 20 min walk.
Long and Leisurely – walking, stretching at home, cycling or a gym workout.
Hope you have found this article helpful.
Faye believes each body requires a minimum input of a particular essential fitness ingredient, be it: a cleaner diet, clearer mindset, better scheduled training sessions, more relaxation, some functional training or just a general lifestyle tweak or two.