Shayna Schmidt | March 11, 2018

Let's face it: we’re all going to experience stress in our lives at some point. We live increasingly hectic lives; from pressure at work to commitments with family and friends, stress creeps up on us wherever we go! It's in our genes as a survival instinct, and the reality is that there's no escape from it. But at the same time, it can also serve as a motivating factor. It's learning how to balance the negative and the positive effects of stress that's key.

Now, regarding the positive effects, we're definitely not saying that a high-stress workplace is going to push all of us to be the best we can be. Research by Berkeley scientists found that stress operates on a slight curve. An acute stressor like an upcoming project deadline, or the prospect of starting a session with your Livekick trainer, can put you in a focused mindset. This is a good thing, as it making you more capable of dealing with anything that comes your way, and dealing with it well!

Stress once in a while? Fine! Stress all the time? Not so good. If you're under that level of pressure on a daily basis, it can have a negative effect not only on you but also for those around you, whether friends, family or even complete strangers. So how is it bad for your health? Well, your health can be broken into two components-- physical and mental-- with high pressure proving damaging for both. 

Stress is bad for your health - Physically

When was the last time you felt stress? It could have been weeks or even minutes ago. You'd probably remember the fluttering heart rate, sweating and hyper awareness as you went from calm to stressed out to a degree you can't even fully recall. Those are just some of the short-term conditions felt by sufferers.

Feeling like this over a long stretch of time can be a horrible ailment to handle. And it can wreak havoc on us physically over a long span of time. One thing stress does to us, physically, is cause muscles to tense over a prolonged period. Those of us facing intense work days over months will gradually find ourselves physically run down. This can manifest in the form of significant muscle fatigue, harmful body posture and can lead to other conditions such as pressure headaches, joint and back pains which, if left unresolved, can lead to irreversible damage to bones and joints.

Along with muscle aches and pains, stress takes its toll on us internally as well. The release of hormones like cortisol forces us into a 'fight or flight' response, elevating the heart rate and putting extra strain on vital organs like the kidneys and liver. Chronic stress means that we're put at higher risk of severe heart conditions such as strokes, heart failure and heart disease. 

As cortisol levels elevate, the kidneys, liver and lungs may also become susceptible to prolonged damage and even failure. Causing conditions like COPD (lungs), renal failure (kidneys) and Type 2 Diabetes (liver).

Stress is bad for your health - Mentally

When stress becomes chronic, it puts sufferers in physical and mental danger. It can put one in a state of perpetual terror where the level of anxiety is debilitating.

While stress isn't a mental health issue, it is the cause of many critical problems for psychological well being. Those with no outlet or method for managing stress may find themselves developing longer-term problems such as chronic anxiety, depression or even post traumatic stress disorder.

While seemingly obscure, the workplace and daily life are proving to be far more toxic. Statistics of people reporting suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from their office jobs are growing, shockingly (or not shockingly). More commonly associated with soldiers and emergency service workers, experts are reporting an alarming rise of the condition caused by corporate workplaces, with stress, anxiety, exhaustion and workplace bullying leading to the same symptoms people experience after returning from a war zone. This is the real concern that stress presents for those of us that are faced with high-pressure lives.

Knowing how to manage your stress in a constructive and healthy way can not only save you hours of a challenging day. But it can improve your health and life dramatically. Taking part in regular exercise sessions can not only help you to beat out the stress but have you living happy, healthy and free!

Exercise can help

Virtually any form of exercise, from high-intensity training to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you're not an athlete or even if you're out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

  1. Endorphins! Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, also known as endorphins. We’d argue that the term “runner’s high” is a misnomer for this, as many forms of exercise can produce this epic feeling.
  2. Meditation in motion. After running and jumping around a bit, or lifting some heavy things, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations, instead focusing on the movements of your body. It’s also time for yourself: you can feel good knowing you’ve taken time out of your day that’s dedicated to you and bettering your health (and life).
  3. It improves… everything. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Not sure how to start a new exercise regimen? Sign up to start working with a Livekick trainer today!

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