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“The most overlooked aspect of improving health and vitality is stress management.” Says Ben Stone of Sigma Human Performance at the Vail Vitality Center.
Prolonged cortisol secretion as a result of heightened levels of stress impairs cognitive function, completely suppress thyroid function, increases your likelihood for issues involving glucose regulation and decreased both bone density and muscle tissue.
This article on stress management is Number 1 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 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
Stress, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “a physical or emotional force that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety.” While stress can be diverse in its origination, it always – regardless of its nature – results in a cascade of events, both physiological and medical. These events have consequences for the body, which remain long after the original stress occurrence has passed.
For women, recent studies women indicate they are three times more likely to develop Hashimoto’s Disease, commonly associated with advanced levels of emotional stress.
Prolonged stress is all too common in men and women! How does stress work in our bodies? Any time we encounter stress, our bodies are completely unaware of its nature. In effect, our bodies literally start preparing us for the worst possible scenario(s); whether it’s escape from a deadly situation, or fear of public speaking, the biochemical events are all the same to our bodies.
The body’s master “fight or flight” stress hormone, Cortisol, is then released in abundance to increase energy, increase blood pressure and decrease sensitivity to pain. This response to stress is always the same. While these functions seem particularly advantageous, they should be somewhat limited – to, say, running away from man-eating lions, assisting in the capture of a thief, performing CPR on a heart attack victim, or perhaps even working out strenuously. Living in this state of stress is not what you want to experience on a continual basis. Of course, this is the hallmark of a stressful lifestyle. Sound familiar?
While the cumulative effects are indeed destructive to overall health, it’s glucose regulation and thyroid function that are dramatically affected. These two bodily functions are probably the most closely associated with unexpected or uncontrolled weight gain.
The release of cortisol on a regular basis for extended periods of time affects fat storage and creates a long-term carbohydrate dependency like eating a diet high in sugars. This situation sets the stage for constant swings in energy, mood and, of course, changes in body composition.
Identifying sources of stress and then managing them should be our first causative strategy – before pharmaceutical intervention.
We are still discovering and understanding the effects of chronic stress. We are certain that systems governing very sensitive balances within the body are significantly impacted by an abundance of stress.
How can we handle stress in our lives? Simple coping strategies, such as list making, physical exercise and, in some cases, psychological counseling have been shown to have positive effects on daily revolving stress levels. Combining these cathartic stress-reduction techniques can be the major difference between falling victim to the effects of long-term stress and preserving and enhancing wellness and vitality.
Sigma Human Performance founder Benjamin Stone specializes in training through modes of endurance exercise that focus specifically on individual energy systems, isometric resistance training, carbohydrate oxidation, and metabolic laboratory analysis. He works with athletes as well as anyone wanting to improve health and vitality.
For more information contact Stone through the Vail Vitality Center at 970-476-7960.
Stress Management series
- Part 2: Utilizing a personal trainer to handle stress. By Blake Gould
- Part 3: Stress Management and Yoga: How does it really help? By Julia Clarke.
- Part 4: Combat stress with the Simple 1-2-3! By Angela Muzic
- Part 5: Too stressed to sleep? This can help! by Lisa Dekoster