Stress and Exercise: The Good and the Bad

We all know that exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body. Among the benefits, exercise can promote functional ability and movement, cardiovascular endurance and relieve stress and anxiety by reducing cortisol levels within the body. The latest craze within the fitness industry includes high intensity workouts such as spin classes, body boot camps, crossfit classes and more. Combined with a high intensity atmosphere, classes at or above capacity, and a huge array of class choices, even exercise could become the root and reason for stress!

Simply stated, the body is a living machine and needs proper fuel and rest to function properly. Lack of adequate rest and working out at higher intensities too often can eventually wear down the body and cause stress levels to increase. Without proper rest, stress hormones like cortisol tend to rise along with blood lactate, which is a byproduct of exercise that causes fatigue and soreness, and increases both your resting heart rate and blood pressure. Yes, there are times to push yourself in workouts, but a continuous beating in the gym Is not necessary to live a healthy life style.

Consequently, some fitness centers have started to implement lower intensity exercise classes. These classes are based around recovery and include amenities like stretching, creating an atmosphere of mindfulness and relaxation and even ice baths.

So how can you tell if your work-outs are “overstressing” your body? Remember, it’s not a bad idea to take a day of relaxation and break free from your week to week routine. It can be refreshing to find something new and to modify your week (schedule instead?). Try implementing these simple steps into your routine to destress!

Step one: Relax

It’s not the end of the world if you miss a work-out; a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. Take time to realize when you are pushing yourself too hard. It’s okay to break from your everyday routine and it’s okay to take a day off (this statement is worthy of repetition – please note prior paragraph!).

Step Two: Adding variety

If you are constantly performing the same exercises over and over again, it’s time to switch it up. It gets boring to do the same thing every day and may be time to switch up your routine and start a new work-out. We are living organisms who adapt and change and by doing the same thing repeatedly we start to lose its benefit.

Step Three: Lower intensity exercises

Incorporating lower intensity exercise like stretching, low intensity cardio and walking is a good way to increase blood circulation and help reduce stress hormones without causing excessive wear on the body. Depending on the frequency and intensity of your workouts, 1-3 recovery sessions should be implemented weekly.
















Jonathan Massimino Exercise Physiologist

You Might Also Enjoy...

Take-Home Message #1 - Preventive Care Blog Series

"Life" + "Style" = "Lifestyle". Do we always account for both parts of the equation when we try living a "healthy lifestyle"? Find out what we quite often miss when we consider taking on a new healthy habit.

A Woman's Heart...

In honor of National Heart Month, Dr. Speck addresses the health challenges women face throughout a lifetime and offers some guidance.

Sit Less. Move More.

Too much sitting increases your risk of heart problems, Type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer. It makes your joints stiff and affects your overall health, especially if you don't get regular exercise! There are many ways to reduce your "tush time."