Ways Stress Affects Your Workout
A lot of people exercise when they are stressed out by the daily struggles that make up our lives. Blowing off steam by lifting heavy weights in the gym is a great way to fill your body up with endorphins but you might actually be harming your body since it is already weighed down by the pressure that comes after a bad day. If you have ever experienced an unsatisfying workout because of a strain on your mental health then you should know that stress can affect your body in many ways.
Mayo Clinic says that even mild stress can have a toll on the body in a mental and physical capacity. The muscles can constrict and sleep schedule is messed up. Stress is not easy to manage because there a million thoughts running through our head. Below are some ways stress affects fitness gains.
Physical Training Goes Off
Upcoming deadlines, a crisis in the family or falling out with a friend can all contribute to stress and in times like these going to the gym is at the bottom of the priority list. Yale University conducted research on the relationship between stress and exercise habits to conclude that 75% of the people slack off when they are under pressure. They become sedentary and waste their time doing nothing but worry. Times of stress can stop someone from resuming their workout schedule and the episodes of laziness can last up to four years.
Muscle Recovery Slows Down
It is normal to have sore muscles the next day after a heavy workout. However, if the soreness lasts longer than expected and you continue exercising despite of it, then the chance of an injury increases substantially. People who are stressed out feel more tired after a workout and suffer from low energy for up to 24 hours following it. Those who are more affected by life pressures and drained by the mental demands of a stressful situation are robbed of the valuable strength resources. If that is combined with a stress workout then they will be completely emptied out.
Stress Affects Fitness Gains
When you have a gym schedule, the heart, lungs, and muscles adapt to the routine with time making you a stronger person than before. This increase can be measured by testing how much oxygen the body uses during one workout. Finnish researchers tested 44 people and monitored their O2 levels when they started a new cycling route. The ones who reported higher stress levels made the least improvement in their oxygen levels after two weeks of cycling even though they rode the same distance.
No More Weight Loss
A research by Kaiser Permanente designed a diet and exercising program for 472 adults to help them shed 10 pounds of weight over a 26-week period. Participants took a quiz before the program rating their stress levels from zero stress to major pressure. Those who had a higher score when they started did not always hit their target. In fact, the ones who reported they were stressed after the 26 weeks had put on weight instead of losing it.
The Benefits of Stress
There is an upside to dealing with stress. Basketball players play better when they were in stressful situations. A free-throw performance test produced better results from anxious players than the ones in a relaxed state of mind. For the average person, performing under pressure can result in a better time in a marathon or higher score at the tennis match. It can also help you be a more productive worker and a better conversationalist at social gatherings.
The trick is to change your mindset so you can turn any failure into a success. Instead of letting stress take over you, you can use it as another obstacle you have to climb to get to the finish line. If your life is relatively stress free then push yourself towards tougher workouts. It can help you improve your performance especially in cases where you are competing in a race or having a friendly match of football with the team from another city.
How to Deal with Stress
It is important to pay attention to your body and treat it with respect. You should always be mindful of your energy levels before you commit to a workout because the physical capacity can vary from day to day. When you are under more stress than usual, you should be gentler and stick to meditative exercises such as pilates, yoga, brisk walking, swimming, and hiking. These activities can calm down the nerves instead of straining them further. If you are completely exhausted after the workout then that is a good indicator that you have pushed yourself too hard and need to take a rest day.
There is no magic formula for dealing with stress but you can manage it by following some tips from the experts. One of the most common techniques is taking deep breaths and taking five minutes after you wake up and before going to bed to meditate. Take some time out for yourself and get out of any social or work-related events if you have to. Self-care is important to leading a happier life so spend more time doing things that you love.
The next time your workout motivation is crushed under the weight of stress but you do not want to skip a day at the gym consider the benefits of stress and go for a lighter routine. Once you are aware that stress affects fitness gains you will be more likely to find a soothing exercise that does not push your body to the edge.