WE’VE MOVED! That’s my stress! I HATE to move. I HATE to buy a car. More stress. I HATE tax season. More stress. Stress is bad. I mean really bad. And it’s also unfortunate that stress can kill you. I mean that literally, not figuratively. No, really, I’m serious. Stress can kill you. Dead, gone, good-by.
When people joke that they are so stressed that they could die, it may, unfortunately, be true. But stress is no laughing matter, especially for people with coronary artery disease (CAD).
According to a study by Sheps and colleagues in the March 26 rapid access issue of Circulation: A Journal of the American Heart Association, mental stress can increase the risk of death in people with CAD. Sheps notes that mental stress increases oxygen demand by causing an elevation in blood pressure and heart rate. “It is important to find out which patients are at risk and learn ways to tailor treatment to those at risk” he says. For clients with and without heart disease, participating in mind-body exercise programs can help reduce stress and increase well being. What kind of exercise? Well, the kind we do here at Lanza Fitness Personal Training!
Published investigations have concluded that exercise can help individuals manage stress much more effectively. Aerobic exercise appears to effectuate stress reduction the most. Some research (still preliminary, though quite fascinating) has hinted that the more aerobically fit an individual is, the better the person manages stress.
In addition, some studies have described the role of exercise as a preventative intervention in managing stress, as opposed to a corrective intervention. Other activities, of course, are yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, massage, meditation, walking, running or just sitting down with a good book.
Now, some people handle stress by undertaking great challenges and reaching for the stars. Other people, most in fact, react to pressure by reaching for a bag of chocolate chip cookies. The relationship between stress and eating behavior is a complicated one. Does stress simply reduce our willpower to make good food choices, or does it actually increase our appetite? Answer: When faced with a stressful situation, our brains signal the adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, releases glucose and fatty acids in the bloodstream in order to provide energy to the muscles. Cortisol also has a direct impact on the body’s blood sugar levels. If too little cortisol is released, hyperglycemia can develop, which can increase the risk for developing diabetes.
When stress is chronic in nature, cortisol levels remain elevated for long periods of time. Eventually, the adrenal glands become overworked and the cortisol release becomes lowered, or blunted. Researchers studying the link between stress and weight gain have found that men and women with a blunted pattern of cortisol secretion response were more likely to have increased body fat around the waist, higher blood pressure and blood sugar imbalances. So, where do we go from here? Well, for starters:
* Don’t worry, be happy! When things become stressful, take charge! Don’t be the victim.
* Eat a variety of REAL foods throughout the day. Not sugary substitutes.
* Replenish vitamins and minerals. Stress burns these up. Talk to us about “Custom Vitamins”!
* As I said before, get physical. Resistance, core and balance training. We can show you how!
* Avoid dieting! You’ll only deprive yourself of required minerals and nutrients.
* Last, but not least, get plenty of rest. Sleep deprivation affects blood sugar levels, reduces the production of human growth hormone, increases the secretion of cortisol and reduces the production of leptin (a hormone that signals satiety).
So now that you’re armed with this information, use it to your advantage. Have a wonderfully stress free day and thanks for listening!