Stress Series: Is Stress Holding Your Fitness Hostage? (Part Two)
We’ve all had a bad workout and often blame it on a lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or a lack of motivation, but at the root, could it really be stress?
In part one of our stress series, we examined stress’ evolutionary role and began to dive into how it impacts our training. Because stress touches just about every part of us, there are many more facets related to our fitness that stress impacts.
You can have all your ducks in a row — proper nutrition and consistent training — but stress can kill all your hard work. At Proven4, it’s important to know yourself and body as it is taking a pre or post workout drink. Learn more about stress and how to better identify it in your training in today’s post.
Additional Ways Stress Impacts Your Fitness
Stress slows your motor function.
Stress loves to piroet around your brain’s cerebellum, which is the structure responsible for coordination and motor control. Both acute and chronic stress impact your body and you may feel an increased amount of muscle tension and impaired tissue regeneration — both can affect your physical performance and subject you to injury.
Stress causes vision disruptions.
When the cortisol is flowing and your stress is at an all-time high, your eyesight is easily disrupted. You may notice a small twitch or a twitch that won’t go away, and some people have even experienced temporary blindness.
With any added stress to anything that’s already chronic, and you get increased pressure on your eyes which manifests into blurry vision, tunnel vision, and sore, strained eyes.
Stress impedes on muscle recovery.
There is an amount of soreness that we can endure, if you’ve ever experienced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) you’re well aware, but there is a point when things feel like they just aren’t improving, and this becomes the problem.
Exercise is indeed a form of stress yet it helps spur your body towards good, positive changes. It’s when your body is chronically stressed that it has difficulty responding to acute stress, which is training.
You can expect to be sore for longer periods of time because there is not enough is your body’s reserve to repair the stress brought on by exercise and your chronic stress.
Our bodies are and can do amazing things — things like fight infection and aging and heal wounds, but you’ll never get to utilize your self-healing mechanisms if you’re battling chronic stress.
The lovely nature about our bodies is that they adapt to new things and training routines you throw their way, and even better, you emerge even stronger and fitter.
Research on the other hand, has indicated that when chronic stress is present it negatively impacts VO2 levels.
Stress elevates the risk of injury.
We know that stress affects our ability to focus and when we’re zoned out running a trail or performing an overhead lift, a sprained ankle or torn bicep could easily occur if our attention is elsewhere.
The bottom line — the more stressed or anxious you are, the more likely you are to make an error and injure yourself.
Stress interferes with weight loss.
If you’re training for fat or weight loss, stress could be altering the results. We’ve long known that stress sets up for cardiovascular concerns, but stress also impacts the way our bodies are able to lose weight.
Cortisol, a stress hormone, is produced and abundantly released when were stressed. As these levels stay elevated, it signals to our body to store energy (food) as fat.
Fat is stored and deposited differently when we’re stressed, namely as visceral or belly fat. If you’ve been struggling to lose the last 10 pounds or are having trouble shaping your almost-six-pack-abs, your stress and high cortisol levels may be the cause for concern.
Stress stifles motivation.
When you’re stressed and anxious, the last thing you want to do is train. Most people just want to veg, while others use coping methods such as food, alcohol, or drugs.
Research from Yale University has concluded that people under pressure spend more time being sedentary and less time being physically active.
Stress is such an amazing outlet for stress reduction, yet when we’re stressed, we don’t want to work out — what an unfortunate cycle.
Stress can exacerbate your emotional well-being.
When you’re chronically stressed, over time, your stress can change you and many external stressors are amplified. Life ebbs and flows, but being stressed can cause a decline in resilency and how you handle everyday events.
There may be an increase of mood swings and confidence issues, and in this, it can be extremely difficult to pursue and achieve your fitness goals.
Stress squashes connection.
When you’re not you — the best version of you — stress makes you tired and emotions can run wild. Everyone deals with stress differently, but some isolate themselves and withdraw from their once social life.
So, stress can squash some very important and helpful relationships.
If you stop going to your group fitness classes or skip out on your training buddy, you fitness suffers right along with it.
Evaluate Your Stress
Stress touches so many parts of a person both physically and emotionally, thus vastly affecting out fitness and how we train. For many, stress has two sides to one coin. On one hand, the stress of training will likely spur muscular growth and improved fitness, yet when it becomes chronic from other life stressors, it hinders progress.
Stress has been a part of our evolution and DNA from the beginning, but we know stress didn’t kill the caveperson — it lent to their survival. It’s our chronic stress, operating on so little while doing everything that is causing so much damage.
It’s important to recognize our stress and then take action in combating its ramifications.
Stay tuned for more posts on our series on stress and look for ways to combat stress next time!