The lovely s word...

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We all have a love hate relationship with stress.

You might say I am crazy because how on earth can you love stress?

But think about it. Stress is a normal response to a challenging or dangerous situation. It helps us deal with difficult situations, solve problems, etc. For example, exercise itself is a form of stress (acute), designed to produce an adaptive response in the body to maximise growth and strength.

See! There is a lot to love about stress.

But…

While some amount of stress is crucial for survival, chronic stress can cause havoc on our bodies and delay the results we want to achieve with our health.

Below I have focused on how it can affect our health and fitness goals.

Performance impairment

Stress often results in increased muscle tension, which can impede physical performance, increase your risk for injury, and slow down tissue repair.

Delayed results

You may not reach your fitness goals as quickly if your stress levels are high. Researchers have proven that the higher your stress levels, the less likely you are to reap the full benefits of any training program.

Delayed muscle recovery

Studies have proven that chronically stressed people take longer to recuperate from an exercise session than people with low stress levels. Our bodies self-repair mechanisms don’t work if we are too stressed causing the delayed recovery.

Increased risk of injuries

Research has shown that a high degree of major life stresses (moving house, divorce etc) or a high amount of daily hassles like arguments with loved ones or losing your cell phone, can increase your risk for injuries during training. Stress may produce increased anxiety which can alter your focus, resulting in injuries during exercises.></div>

Effect on weight loss

We are all aware that stress induces weight gain. But what’s even more alarming is, it is known to also make us least likely to lose weight and, in fact, to achieve any health goal despite following a good exercise and nutrition program. Stress can slash your weight loss results in half! Stress causes the body to store fat and increases the appetite for high fat and high sugar foods.

Stress is a motivation killer

“I am too tired to exercise.” I hear this a lot from the people around me and, as much as I hate to admit, I have been guilty of this plenty of times. Researchers have proven that people under pressure tend to put off physical activity and are more sedentary. Unfortunately, we tend to not exercise in times of stress. Not exercising when your stress levels rise is particularly unfortunate, as it is an excellent stress-reduction tool.

Stress shrinks your brain

When you are overly stressed, you are more vulnerable and more likely to experience discouragement and fluctuating self-esteem creating barriers in reaching your fitness goals. Did you know stress literally shrinks the size of the brain? This not only affects emotions and self-control but also could have psychological effects that ripple into nearly every aspect of your life, including your health.

Now that’s enough reason to manage stress better don’t you think?

Now that we know what stress can do to our bodies and mind, we know how important it is to manage it effectively. Not just to achieve our health and fitness goals but for the sake of our loved ones around us because our stress affects those around us too.

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