This article on stress management is Number 2 in a 5 part series from the professionals at the Vail Vitality Center. We created this series for all clients suffering from stress and struggling with how to manage it in their lives. Stress is a very real concern for almost everyone that’s why we have taken the time to share our knowledge with you. Learn how to manage stress using a variety of modalities. Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
Everyone feels emotional stress in their daily lives. In our first column of this five-part series on managing stress, the Vail Vitality Center’s Ben Stone addressed the physical effects of stress on the body. These effects include cortisol, glucose regulation, weight gain, and thyroid function.
Emotional stress affects your body’s cortisol levels. Small increases in cortisol levels do have positive effects in small, irregular doses, including heightened memory function, increased immunity, lower sensitivity to pain, and homeostasis regulation. Unfortunately, constant (chronic) stress and more consistently high levels of cortisol lead to negative effects. These negative effects include impaired cognitive function, suppressed thyroid function, decreased bone density, decreased muscle tissue, lower immunity, and inflammatory responses, and most of all, increased abdominal fat.
Increased abdominal fat is what people notice first when dealing with chronic stress.
Here are three ways personal trainers or coaches help people physically combat stress.
1. Coaches and trainers help you understand and manage the stress you are putting on your body during a workout. Does this workout lead to a release of too much cortisol? Guidance from a coach could be the missing link in achieving your goal weight or fitness level.
2. Overtraining (doing too much with too little rest) is a common problem in the Vail Valley, causing the body to release too much cortisol and leading to the negative effects mentioned above. We see people all the time who want to perform at a high level but physically their body cannot take any more stress. They injure themselves and then cannot recover as quickly as they would like to. Why? They never let the body heal before they jump back into overtraining mode. Stress on the body has the same effect as emotional stress. Letting your body rest helps decrease stress levels.
3. Both emotional and physical stress lead to inflammation in the musculoskeletal system. Constant stress leads to pain in the bones, joints, and muscles of your body. Most people with high-stress levels notice pain in their shoulders and low back. So why is weight training a benefit to a person experiencing stress-induced inflammation and pain?
A proper workout program targets those painful areas and works to fix any underlying issues, but the proper amount of physical stress will lead to reduced musculoskeletal inflammation.
Emotional stress leads to decreased serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood, sleep, appetite, learning, and memory.
Emotional stress not properly managed decreases serotonin levels playing a part in depression, changes in mood and loss of sleep. Of course, most people tend to overeat when serotonin levels drop to make themselves feel happy, indulging in their favorite foods.
So how do we combat drops in serotonin levels to prevent weight gain, depression? Exercise has been shown to increase serotonin production, helping to ease or eliminate mood changes and weight gain.
Teaming up with a personal trainer helps you reach your fitness goals by adding the expertise of a professional who can identify healthy stress versus chronic – unhealthy – stress, both in your workout routine and in your life. Personal trainers also provide the motivation to keep you on track and excited about creating new healthy habits for life.
If you have any questions or concerns about stress and how a personal trainer can help, please contact me at the Vail Vitality Center: 970-476-7960.
We offer personal training sessions to help with your stress management concerns. They are available in 5, 10 and 20 packs. Talk to Blake anytime if you have an questions!
Blake Gould is a Vail Vitality Center professional trainer and rehabilitation specialist. He received a degree in Sports/Exercise Science from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, with a minor in Psychology.
Stress Management Series