Stress: its impact on our health, performance, and ways to manage it.
A topic that has been coming up regularly in chats with my athletes recently is stress. Stress both internally and externally.
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While we all know stress isn’t good for us, unfortunately the current world we live in seems to keep pushing the boundaries of just how far we can go. Work stress, family stress, training stress, emotional stress and mental stress.
Stress is one of the biggest drivers of our health. Our hypothalamus, which is like the gatekeeper of our body, is continually assessing internal and external stressors and adjusting for them. It sends signals to the pituitary gland and onto the thyroid gland and others to secrete certain hormones in response to what is going on. This then impacts our metabolism, immune system, sex hormones, and many other physiological processes, like the ability to build lean muscle and recover well from training.
When we experience stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol, which plays a key role in our "fight or flight" response.
Cortisol helps to regulate a number of bodily functions, including blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and immune function. However, chronic stress can lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels, which can have negative effects on the body, impacting insulin and glucagon which in return can lead to insulin resistance (and high blood glucose levels, like pre-diabetes and type two diabetes). This can then lead to increased fat, increased risk of heart disease, and impaired immunity..