How does stress affect your physical fitness routine

Exercising is a great way to reduce stress, but high-stress levels can have a negative impact on your ability to exercise itself.

So many of us are finding it increasingly hard to cope with stress, be it at work or at home. This situation is only aggravated by excessive caffeine intake, fast-paced urban environments and disturbed sleep cycles. While we are aware of how stress impairs social and interpersonal functionality, its effect on physical fitness is often less discussed.

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Stress won’t just affect your mental well-being but also your fitness level. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here’s how stress can impact physical fitness

The link between exercising and stress reduction is known to many of us. In fact, as per research published by Harvard Medical School, working out could stimulate the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood lifts. However, there could be instances where the level of stress is so high that it impairs our will and ability to indulge in physical activities altogether.

According to dietitian, physiotherapist, and a certified diabetes educator Dr Archana Batra, “When you are super stressed, it is not only your body but also your mind which needs relaxation. You feel extremely tired because of the restricted blood flow. In this state, you do not want to get into hardcore exercises.”

This overwhelming stress can have a negative effect on your physical fitness, making it difficult for you to achieve targets, focus on the workout, and recover adequately. A research published in the journal Sports Medicine noted that stress impairs efforts to be physically active. The research study also observed that stress may have an impact on exercise adoption, maintenance, and relapse.

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Reducing stress may help with improving fitness level. Image courtesy: Unsplash
Here’s how stress can impact physical fitness

Reduces focus: Stress burdens the stream of thoughts, making your mind wander to the persistent issues you are facing in life, from personal, health, to financial. This will affect your concentration levels when working out, making you lose focus.

Reduced focus may also lead to the risk of you getting injured, due to not paying attention to the proper weightlifting techniques, and/or using faulty equipment. Your overall performance and fitness milestones may also take a hit because of this factor.

Hampers recovery time and muscle growth: The muscles break or tear when you lift weights or do intense cardio workouts, and resting is the primary way to heal the muscles and supplement their growth.

As stress could impact the quality and duration of sleep, your muscle growth may suffer as a result of a lack of adequate rest. This may also impact the motivation levels, as delayed recovery could break the momentum and the will to consistently workout.

So, ladies, stress management is crucial for maintaining physical fitness and should be made a priority to boost overall health.

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