Surveys show that 60% of Americans feel they are under huge stress at least once per week.
In other words, their flight or flight response – our inbuilt response to a dangerous situation- is fully activated. Their hormones flow, the nerves are alerted for action and the muscles are primed. Yet the body doesn’t spring into action. It just sits there. The result? Anger. Frustration. Internal chaos.
All of that inner turmoil is not good for you. Chronic stress is known to increase the risk of high blood pressure, clogged arteries, obesity, peptic ulcers, diabetes and impotency. It can cause digestion problems, headaches and can even make you more susceptible to the common cold. In fact, as many as two thirds of all of the problems seen in doctor’s offices can be linked back to stress.
How does stress cause such turmoil? Simply put, the body wasn’t designed for fight or flight on a daily basis. The stress response was meant to be there to speed up your system during occasional big crises, not like sitting at traffic lights that seem to be permanentlyswitched to red. The heart was never meant to beat like mad on a regular basis. The blood vessels weren’t designed to withstand the effects of frequent, sharp spikes in blood pressure.
So, what can be done to alleviate the effects of stress? Research makes it clear that people who work out fare much better at coping with stress and avoiding the health complications that often follow stress. Here’s what you can do to maximize the stress-elevation benefits of your lifting program.
Work out hard: The harder you work, the more endorphins you release into your system. Not only are hard workouts one of the best way to lose body fat, you might also want to schedule your hardest workouts for the most stressful days of your week. If going through an emotionally trying time, consider it an excellent opportunity to up the intensity of your normal routine.
Work out early: Exercise has a well known residual feel-goof effect, probably due to endorphins which may linger in the system and perhaps due to it’s meditative effects. This can help you avoid frustration during a hectic day.
Hit those big muscles: The bigger the muscle group you’re working, the greater the release of endorphins, and the more oxygen flows to your brain. On days of high stress, consider spending more time with your squats and bench presses than on your biceps and triceps
Illuminate your workout: Sunlight has a positive effect on mood. Open the blinds in your gym – or, better still, take your training outdoors.
Turn on the music: Music you enjoy can make your workout more enjoyable and stress alleviating.
Share the good energy: Another proven mood buster is having a regular workout partner with whom you can share the excitement of your progress.
Mix it up: The last thing you want to do is add to your stress with boring workouts. Yes, boredom is stressful. Keep things interesting by varying exercises. And if one day you want to skip the gym altogether and do something, that’s fine.
Weight training is not only a best way to lose body fat it is also a great stress reliever. It has been shown to alleviate depression, anger and hostility. Weight training won’t eliminate all of the stress and other negative emotions in your life. But it can create a mountain of calm compared to those who try to juggle what they do without the benefit of lifting weights.