Exercise is great for stress right?
Listen, let’s be honest, life is stressful. You’ve got work, your boss to deal with, bills, NEVER ENDING BILLS, and then some of us even have kids. And if you have kids, while they bring us joy, they DEFINITELY bring us stress too.
Oh and I didn’t even mention the stress of trying to balance all of this while maintaining a social life and trying to be healthy.
Whoa, that’s a lot!
So a lot of us turn to exercise to help with the stress. You get to go to the gym, bury yourself in a workout, and it feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
Except…. some of those workouts may actually be doing more harm than good.
Here’s what’s up, when we do strenuous exercise, such as HIIT or CrossFit for example, our bodies activate our fight-flight-freeze response. As we perform high intensity exercise our heart rate and blood pressure rise, the same thing that happens when we perceive a threat. This in turn activates our sympathetic nervous system, which triggers our fight-flight-freeze response, increasing our heart rate and blood pressure. It becomes a vicious cycle.
As our fight-flight-freeze response turns on, our body is flooded with cortisol, the stress hormone. Typically our bodies are already flooded with it, due to the stress of everyday life, and now we’re adding fuel to the fire by performing some of these workouts. When there’s too much cortisol in our systems it can lead to increased fat stores, exhaustion, drowsiness, and lack of appetite.
Now of course studies show that regular exercise helps reduce stress, flush cortisol out of our system, and if you recover properly, actually turn off our fight-flight-freeze response.
But therein lies the secret.
Burying yourself in workouts day in and day out just isn’t good for you.
So instead here are two tips to ensure that you’re not doing more harm than good by working out.
Make sure you’re taking rest days, 1-2 per week is ideal for most people. Sleep is another important factor when it comes to recovery. And of course proper nutrition can’t be overlooked.
2. Mix Up Training
Mix up your training. As I discussed earlier, high intensity training 6-7 days a week just isn’t good for your body in the long term. You should make sure your exercise is well rounded. Yes you need high intensity, but you should also be getting in some heavy lifting and zone 2 cardio as well.
If you’re interested in learning how to create a well rounded program that will help you accomplish your goals, please message us to schedule an Intro Consultation, we would love to help.