How does stress affect my body and my training?

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In today's article you will learn how stress affects your training and how you can reduce your stress through training!  

“Stress is a heavy strain on an organism caused by internal and external stimuli. These stimuli, called stressors, disturb the internal balance of the organism and require an adaptive response from it.” – WHO

What else can stress mean?

Stress is not always time-bound, but can also arise in other life situations: when caring for a loved one, managing family and work life, in a bad working relationship or even due to mental stress. Negative stress is then referred to as distress. 


Is stress only negative?

No, there is also the so-called eustress, positive stress. This occurs when we are challenged, want to perform, experience moments of happiness and therefore also in training. 

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How are stress and regeneration related? 

Imagine a pendulum swinging between stress on the one hand and recovery on the other. If it oscillates sufficiently to the regeneration side, we can perform better and not be drained as quickly. Likewise, when we have a busy, stressful day, we long for sleep and rest. 

But if we don't recover to the extent we need, we will eventually find ourselves stuck on the stress side, feeling burnt out and tired, unable to meet our daily demands.

So we need a good balance between stress and regeneration.

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What happens in my body when I am exposed to stress?

Our subconscious nervous system, which puts us into combat mode, is activated. This increases the heart and breathing rate. Our digestion and metabolism slow down. It becomes difficult to fall asleep, we find it difficult to rest and our sleep is not very restful. 

Our body also releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, whose job it is to provide energy in the short term.

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How are stress hormone release and my training goals related?

In the short term, the stress hormones increase our performance and concentration, so we can move more weight or are faster. 

In the long term, the release of cortisol inhibits the release of testosterone. However, we need this to build muscle. In order to provide energy, cortisol draws on protein reserves in the muscle, which we actually need there to build muscle.

Furthermore, a cortisol release above the normal level reduces our sleep quality. However, sleep is particularly important when building muscle so that the muscles can recover well and work as required again. 

Even if we are interested in losing fat, having cortisol levels that are too high is undesirable as it causes our body to store fat instead of getting rid of it.

How can I influence my stress level in everyday life?

  • Regular exercise: The release of dopamine (= happiness hormone) can lower the cortisol level and thereby reduce stress. Here, too, it is important to take breaks from training so that our body can recover sufficiently. 
  • Nutrition: Balanced and nutrient-rich meals provide energy and help with regeneration and muscle building. But it's not just the content that matters, but also that it tastes good and meets your inner needs. Chocolate or other “treats” are completely okay and important in moderation!
  • Sleep: Melatonin (= sleep hormone) is the antagonist to cortisol and lowers it. In order to release melatonin, a well-rehearsed sleep routine with regulated bedtimes and sufficient sleep duration is important. Also no caffeine, 6-8 hours before going to bed and about an hour before no blue light from tablet, laptop and/or smartphone. 
  • Daily moments of joy: meeting friends, reading a book, going for a walk, spending time alone, hiking, painting... it doesn't matter what it is, as long as it makes you happy and satisfied. 
  • Stress Reassessment: What Are the Beliefs Behind the Stress We Make Ourselves? Social pressure or striving for perfectionism - is all of this even feasible and a must for everyone? Finding values that we can identify with and striving for them drives our happiness and, in the long run, reduces the stress we cause ourselves.

Smaller, more familiar studios like Fit4TheGame are often less crowded and also offer a great community. The focus is on having fun with exercise and so you often don't even notice that you're sweating, doing something good for your body and leaving the gym in a better mood than before.

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