Stress is a common part of everyday life. I am stressed, you are stressed…we are all some form of stressed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. I could sit here today and tell you all the magical ways to combat it. How you need to take a deep breath and get organized. How you need to meditate, keep a journal or find more time for the things you love. Or, I could just tell you to let it all go. But you’ve read those articles already.
So let’s just talk about what stress does to your workouts.
But it’s not just a mental thing.
Extended states of stress put immense pressure on your body. It can add to many health issues, like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and even diabetes.
That’s big picture, though.
Small picture: It consumes you, and it affects everything you do from one minute to the next. This is especially true when you are a stressed-out exerciser.
So let’s talk about what stress does to your workout:
1) Stress keeps you from working out.
When you are “so busy” or “so behind” at work, you feel obligated to focus on work. What suffers the most? That 5:30PM fitness class you like to attend is scrapped for more time at the office. Early AM sessions with a personal trainer are pushed off for quality time at your desk before the boss gets in.
2) Stress prevents you from focusing on your workout.
When your to-do list gets to be a mile long, or when your schedule is void of wiggle room—your workout becomes another item on your list. Another thing you have to get through so you can do what comes next. Which, of course, affects the quality of your workout.
3) Stress takes away recovery time.
According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, stress uses up everything you’ve got. It puts an immense amount of pressure on your body, zapping it of the resources it needs to function properly. And it needs a lot of resources to recover from a solid workout.
4) Stress can make you gain weight.
Many studies have been done on the effects of stress on weight gain, and they all show that it does bring on the pounds. So if losing weight is your primary motivator for working out, you’ll have to be really good at leaving stress in the car when you pull up to the gym—we all know how easy that is (but I assure you, it can be done).
Here’s the positive:
Stress CAN motivate you.
I know that sounds counterintuitive to the above, but you should use all of that stress to fire up your workout. So make time for the gym when you are stressed, and be mindful of all the ways that stress can negatively affect you.
Your body, mind and soul (and ultimately your workout) will thank you for it.
Question: How do you handle stress? Does it ever affect your workout? Do you find that working out helps you de-stress?