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How Exercise Can Stress You Out and Add To Your Waistline

by Angela Counsel

Yoga woman image_1

Busy women who are stressed and overwhelmed often don’t have time for exercise.

But they get an attack of the guilts and read in the media or hear from lots of people they speak to that exercise is fantastic for stress.

The thought of making time to exercise gets them even more stressed out. They get themselves in a flap about making sure they get to the gym. They’ve noticed a bit of extra tummy weight creeping on in recent months (one of the signs of adrenal burnout) but instead of looking at the underlying cause of the extra weight, they figure they’ll just get rid of it by going to a boxing class or doing a 10 k run.

They need fast results so they’ll do something fast and furious.

But I’m here to give you some food for thought around this.

What if I told you that type of exercise was actually causing you MORE stress? What if I told you the weight won’t shift? What if I told you the stress would NEVER go away even if you kept going to the gym in your stressed and overwhelmed state?

I’m sure a few of you would be cheering and ready to rip up the gym membership or chuck the Nikes in the bin.

Wait! Not yet. Let me explain.

When you are stressed, you are running on adrenalin with hormones flying all over the place.

Your body has gone into survival mode, running on a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol stores fat and whenever the body thinks it’s under stress it goes into a primitive response. The body and the brain make the assumption that there is uncertainty around where the next meal is coming from so it increases the production of cortisol which stores fat in case you need it later.

So think about this. If you are stressed out and you go for a long run or do a high-intensity workout, your body and the cortisol levels never get a chance to come back to normal, calmer levels. The body will stay in that primitive response AND keep the fat stored around your tummy for even longer.  Great for prehistoric times when women didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. Not so great for women in 2015.

Ever exercised like crazy but the tummy weight has never shifted? That’s why. Sound familiar?

And then you get even MORE frustrated and STRESSED because the weight isn’t shifting. And to add insult to injury, you’re absolutely knackered. You’re supertired because your stressed out body can’t handle the additional levels of cortisol caused by high intensity exercise. It’s already releasing cortisol thinking it’s under stress.

I’m not saying don’t exercise. What I’m saying is during busy periods when you can feel yourself getting pulled into overwhelm, adjust the type of exercise you do. Research has show you will get more benefit from low impact exercise. Keep it gentle.

  • tai chi
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • gentle walking

Go for exercise options that use breathing techniques to calm your body down. This tells the primitive part of your brain the danger is over and it doesn’t need to store the fat anymore. Cortisol levels come down. Metabolism levels go up. Weight starts to shift.

For an immediate way to slow down the cortisol production in your body, breathe in deeply…right into the deep part of your lungs. Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for 7 and breathe out for the count of 8. That will increase the metabolism and your fat will start to burn.

Once your stress levels are under control and your life has calmed itself down a little bit, then you can consider going back to high impact and cardio workouts but until then, choose gentle over gym.

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