Stress is important to understand when it comes to overall fitness, depending on how your body copes with stress helps determine how capable the body is performing everyday tasks.
When the body is stressed it responds by producing stress hormones (the main one being cortisol), the hormones are produced so we can cope and survive the stress. When the body is not encountering stress, it is in a state of repair, and this is the time when we produce growth hormones (the main one being human growth hormone).
Ideally, we want an even part of our day when we are producing either stress or growth hormones, the body needs stress to grow but to much stress limits growth. Whenever we are producing stress hormones, the body is unable to produce growth hormones, and vice versa. The best time of day to produce stress hormones is when we awake, and for growth hormones when we are a sleep.
Alongside producing stress hormones the body also produces enzymes required to store fat (lipogentic), as the body is stressed it knows that storing fat betters its survival rate, as fat is high in energy.
The good news though, is when we produce growth hormones (lipolatic), the body produces an enzyme required for fat metabolism, as the body needs large amounts of fuel (fat) to repair itself. So, the more stressed we become the better the body is at storing fat, where the more the body recovers the more fat it utilises for fuel.
So the question is, how do we reduce the stress the body encounters on a daily basis? To answer that, we need to have a better understanding of the different types of stress, as well as, how the body copes with stress.
Stress is very often the root of many people’s problems, whether they recognize it or not. You’ll often hear that someone is “under too much stress”. But what exactly stress? How can some withstand more stress than others? Is stress always a bad thing?
Most people think of stress as inherently bad, but this isn’t always the case. Just as bones and muscles need physical exercise to stay strong, we also need certain amounts of stress to stay healthy. A complete lack of stress would not be a good thing.
There are six major types of stress, each of which can have good or bad effects.
So What Does Stress Do to Your Body
The six types of stress described over the last few pages can be broken down into two groups, external and internal.
External stressors are things that stress the body from the outside, such as sunlight, physical pain (caused by pain or other external forces), emotional trauma and toxic chemical exposure.
Internal stressors come from within the body and are most often the reaction to external stressors. For example, if you’re repeatedly exposed to toxic chemicals, cancer or other diseases may develop.
Even if the toxic chemicals are removed, cancer will continue to stress the body systems. If you’re in an unhappy relationship, an external situation, you’ll experience a chronic stress response within the body.
Chronic stressors cause elevated stress hormones in the body, leading to immune suppression, the inability to heal and eventually to disease.
Stress is perceived or interpreted by key control systems of the body- emotional, hormonal, visceral, nervous, musculoskeletal and other body subsystems.
Good stressors are used by the body to regulate and maintain optimal bodily function. The bad or excessive stressors can throw the body out of balance. The nervous system plays an important role here. All the stressors, good or bad, are funnelled together and processed by the nervous system to create an overall stress to the body.
You will stay in balanced state if the total stress is favourable for your body. When in a balanced state, response to external stressors such as exercise is more favourable to the body. The ability to handle bad stress is also much improved.
If for any reason the sum of all the stressors places too great a demand on your body, you will fall out of balance. If you don’t make the necessary changes to reduce the primary stress or stressors, your body begins to break down and you progressively move your body in to a state of poor health.
This in turn reduces your ability to cope with external stressors such as exercise, as is your ability to tolerate internal stressors, such as disease. The more your cause an imbalance of how the body handles external and internal stressors, the more easily disease will be able to take hold. This is where the saying “stress kills” comes from.