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Managing Stress To Help Meet Fitness Goals

Stress is a natural emotional reaction to negative experiences and other stimuli. Although stress is seen as a negative emotion, there are many benefits that can come from our body’s natural fight or flight response.

How Does Stress Impact Your Health And Where Does Fitness Fit In?

Before learning how to manage your stress, it is important to learn where it comes from. The feelings of stress come from the part of your brain called the Amygdala, which is part of the limbic system. The limbic system controls your emotional reactions, your focus, and your libido. This means your limbic system plays a big role in keeping you motivated towards your goals, and keeping you happy while you do it.

“Good” Stress vs “Bad” Stress

Although stress is seen as all bad, there are some levels of stress that can benefit the person by increasing motivation. However, there are times when the body’s fight or flight takes over, leaving you with “bad” stress that affects you physically and mentally. When understanding your stress levels, it is important to note when the “Good stress” to motivate you becomes “bad” stress, which affects everyday life.

What Is “Good” Stress?

Good stress is well known as the same nervous feeling before a big test, or an important presentation at work. It can be the sweaty palms as you get ready for your first date, or the nervousness as you await big news. Good stress can help keep you grounded, and remind you what is important. Stress is your body’s reminder to work hard to your goals and be the best person you can possibly be.

What Is Bad Stress?

What happens when stress gets out of hand?  That is where “Bad” stress begins. Bad stress is when small worries in particular situations turn into anxiety that takes over your day. Bad stress can come with physical symptoms that further affect your body’s functioning, and your motivation. Bad stress becomes a problem when you notice small worries are beginning to affect your everyday life, or have turned into generalized anxiety. Always talk to your doctor if you believe your stress is getting out of control.

a young businesswoman sitting at a desk holding her glasses in one hand and applying pressure to her temple to help with a tension headache caused by stress

The Physical Impact Of Stress

There are a myriad of symptoms that can come with too much stress. Disruption of your limbic system can affect your digestive system by causing unpleasant stomach aches and appetite problems. This can appear as difficulties in maintaining a diet plan, and reaching for unhealthy comfort foods which may further disrupt your system .By depriving your body of healthy foods to fuel your mind and body, it can make it even harder to maintain and reach your goals.

Stress is also known to cause headaches, which can be very uncomfortable when you are trying to exercise. Headaches can come with sensitivity to light and sound, and can turn a workout day into a rest day. These headaches can become debilitating for some people and turn into migraines, which are a severe chronic illness that can affect a person’s everyday life.

 If you have any concerning physical symptoms, always get checked by a doctor. Stress comes at a risk for hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, which can increase your risk for heart attacks and stroke. Be mindful of what your body is telling you, and give it the care it deserves.

The Mental Impact of Stress

The mental symptoms that come with stress are more well known than the physical symptoms. Stress can manifest itself differently for each person, and comes from the limbic system, which controls emotional regulation. If this system is imbalanced, a person can become irritable, anxious or sad. These emotions can make it hard to feel motivated and can become debilitating if not addressed.

Using healthy coping mechanisms and methods at home, or talking to your doctor for help can make the mental symptoms of stress easier to manage, and get you back to feeling like yourself. Meditation, going for walks in nature, and even spending some time to yourself doing something you enjoy can lessen the mental impact of stress. 

How Can Fitness Help You Manage Stress

It is common for people to think: “I don’t have time for exercise, I am too stressed out about work, school, and my family”. 

Although stress can affect your ability to manage day-to-day tasks, your fitness routine is actually scientifically proven to reduce stress overall and leave you feeling better and more ready to conquer the day.

Exercise is known to release neurotransmitters called endorphins. Endorphins are the feel good chemicals that your body releases to calm you down and regulate the activity in your amygdala. These endorphins are your body’s way of managing stress and not letting the worries of day-to- day life affect your wellbeing. Endorphins lower your blood pressure and reduce the emotional feelings of stress, leaving you smiling and happy.

Using Stress As A Motivator

Instead of letting stress slow you down, it can be used as a motivator to push yourself to achieve more and become the best you can be. When we are stressed, our body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode. This releases adrenaline, an important hormone which can make you feel energized, alert, and even more focused on the task at hand. Use this adrenaline rush to exercise harder and release those feel-good chemicals called endorphins. This endorphin release is commonly called a “Runner’s high”, which is the calm relaxed state some people feel after going for a jog. This calmness comes from an endorphin rush, and can leave you feeling better than you felt before exercising.

The Positive Impact Of Physical Activity on Stress

Physical activity can regulate your nervous system by calming you down, as well as distracting the brain from stress. 

Additionally, physical activity gives a person something to work towards, and the feeling of being proud of even small accomplishments can make someone’s day, even if it is just for a 30-minute workout. If you are feeling stressed and are worried it is impacting your fitness goals, talking to your doctor and personal trainer is step one to becoming the best you.

At First Class Personal Training, your busy schedule is not something to stress over. With our in-home personal trainers, we can make appointments that work best for you, and offer flexible plans to not make physical fitness something to worry about.

Contact us today to set up your complimentary consultation.

September 20, 2023