Is Stress Ruining Your Workouts?

Stress is a pretty normal part of most of our lives! We all experience the stress of a day job, plus the stress that comes from relationships with family, friends, and significant others. Add in a few kids, some looming payments (car payments, mortgage, etc.), and the stress starts to mount. Try to lose weight, exercise more, and live healthy, and you'll be feeling the stress in no time! If you're not careful, you may find stress ruining your workouts in a number of ways:

Low Energy

Do you feel like you run out of energy faster than you should? This may happen during your workout, or even during your work day. It can be a pain in the butt, and can make working and working out much harder. Stress can sap your energy far faster than you think! After all, stress releases adrenaline along with cortisol, which causes your body to burn through energy in a sort of "panic" or "emergency" response. Plus, stress can stop your body from producing testosterone, the manly hormone that helps to increase energy levels. It can lead to headaches, indigestion, and other health problems, all of which will stop you from hitting the gym for your daily workout!

Demotivation

Everyone has "down days" or "off days"--days when you just don't feel like working out. This is a pretty normal part of life, with all of its highs and lows. However, if you are feeling stressed, you're less likely to turn to exercise as a source of de-stressing. Instead, you'll sit on the couch, munch on unhealthy "comfort foods", or sleep more. Your demotivation will make it harder to get to the gym, and the quality of your workouts will suffer.

Low Performance

And we're not talking about bedroom performance! When you're stressed, your muscles tense up, your brain starts to feel the strain, and even your motor skills can suffer. This is all thanks to the adrenaline that is produced as a result of the stress. Adrenaline is a good thing in small quantities, but too much can lead to reduced performance. If you aren't careful, the stress can affect your physical performance negatively. This is when you're most likely to have an accident or strain your body!

Higher Fat Intake

Have you ever noticed how stress causes you to crave certain foods? When you're stressed or anxious, the last thing you want to eat is brown rice, fruits, or veggies. Instead, you crave high fat foods, or foods with a lot of sugar. These foods trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain, which helps you to feel better for a while. However, when you eat these foods, you are setting back your diet efforts. These high-fat and high-sugar foods may make you feel good for a short while, but once you realize what you've done, the stress will return. In fact, it may even be worse, due to the fact that you now have to make up for the "cheat" on your diet!

Slow Recovery

Did you know that your body recovers more slowly when you're stressed? This is because stress sets your body into "active" mode, increasing energy output, producing adrenaline, and heightening your senses. If stress lasts, your body never enters the "recovery" mode that sets in once the cortisol and adrenaline leave your system. If you're stressed, exercise won't just tire you out more quickly, but your body will take longer to recover from your workouts. You won't "recharge your batteries" thanks to whatever it is that's stressing you out.

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