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Continue to learn more about Stress and Exercise: Fitness Articles Home


By:Alex Borja

Do you like to work out frequently but find yourself stressed out and not willing (or wanting) to do what you once loved? You may be a common victim of stress which will throw your fitness dreams and goals right out the window. I will explain why stress can be very detrimental to your workouts (and health) and what to do in order to get back into your fitness routine.

Everyday your body is dealing with multiple stressors and trying to figure out the best way to cope with each of them. Consider the average person in the United States who gets approximately 6 hours of sleep. While this is not enough for the average person, America thrives on early morning business. What does this mean for you—a lot of stress that can affect every aspect of your life.

This is just one example to the multitude of stressors challenging you every day and determining your ability to cope with everyday tasks. The more stressors we place on our bodies, the more likely we are to breakdown and fail at the incoming tasks at hand.

There are many other stressors that aim to ruin your fitness goals other than the fore mentioned sleep component. Stress from our everyday lives including our job, wife, kids, friends, and relationships can devastate ones true potential for fitness success.

This is how your exercise routine can fail miserably. Maintaining stress is one of the most important aspects to any training program and it will hinder you from reaching your goals entirely. All too often there is the idea that the more you do or utilize, the more you will achieve. With regards to training this could not be further from the truth.

Modesty is the key to unlocking your bodies’ true potential for growth and development. Train quality over quantity at every workout session to reap the benefits with no side effects. Repeated bouts at the gym will only lead to a stressed out body with no benefits and only the negative side effects!

What are these negative side effects? Reduce quality of sleep, restlessness, weight gain, mood swings, depression, social isolation, and the list goes on and on. Exercising is literally the breaking down of your body in controlled exposures and it needs the rest, diet, and overall reduced stress levels to recuperate. When you exercise you cause micro-tearing of your muscles which allow them to repair and grow back stronger.

Recovery time will be lengthened due to stressors bearing down on you so your body won’t recover at the proper rate, leading you to even more breakdown and diminished recovery rates. Basically this is a vicious cycle that gets you nowhere.

So what do you do? If you can’t workout because you’re stressed but still want to maintain your health and fitness there are options. Number one, I would say figure out what’s stressing you and make sure you take preventative measures. If every night is filled with only 5 hours of sleep, increase it slowly back up to a reasonable level. If your kids are driving you crazy, take at least one night a week for “you” time.

Once you have your plan set, I would begin taking longer breaks in between workout sessions. You’re going to need that increased time to recover more than usual until you feel you’re ready. I would go as far as to say that 4 days in between workouts will do if you train pretty intensely and depending on your stress levels. Remember that exercise in itself is a stress reliever and is a great tool for reducing stress. Depending on your levels of stress I would aim to perform the greatest amount of exercise possible with complete recovery.

Ok, well what would complete recovery be exactly? Complete recovery means that there are no feelings of soreness, joint aches, or feelings of exhaustion. There should be no doubt that you will be able to get through your workout and put effort into it. Although stress will cause you to have diminished energy levels, light exercise can be your escape from the rest of the world. Exercise is a great time for self reflection and release of stressful thoughts. It’s benefits far outweigh the cons as long as overtraining is not taking place.

Once you begin to notice positive effects from your reduction in stress, exercise frequency can resume back to normal. These may include but not limited to an increase in: alertness, energy, focus, cognitive functioning, positive outlook, productivity, feelings of accomplishment, and so on.

Next time you feel that your daily life is beginning to accumulate too much stress, focus on eliminating the stressor and backing the intense workouts to a manageable level. This will allow continued participation in your exercise plan, without the negative side effects associated with stress.


Stress: Every Fitness Fans Worst Nightmare
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