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Stress and physical activity

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According to several well know publications the greatest reason for long-term sick leave is mental illness caused by stress. We can conclude a worrying trend from 2010 with an overrepresentation of women. 

During stressful episodes your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, the levels of sugars and fats in your blood increase, you breathe faster and more, your pupils dilate, your digestion is down prioritized etc. It is the quick release of stress hormones, f.ex. adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol and glucagon that we react to and they are vital for us in order to be ready to flee a threatening situation. But we only have one type of stress reaction. Your body will not be able to see the difference between the threat of an attacking bear, if you have a tight deadline at work or it you have relational issues. The stress reaction will be the same!

If we decide to go out for a jog, a stress reaction is necessary in order to increase our pulse, blood pressure and breathe more. Therefore, training is actually also a stress for your body. The difference between training and stress created by a tight deadline is that the training session has a clear finish and your levels of stress hormones will decrease afterwards. Which also leads to lowered blood pressure and pulse which have positive health benefits. Regular training also entails that we become more resistant to stress. So, if you have a really tight schedule at work, training is the last thing you should cut down on.

Being afraid of your bodies reaction to stress could actually mean that you will increase your stress levels during the week. Therefore, it could be calming to think about that we are made to handle stress and stress reactions in turn are not dangerous. Stress isn't harmful if we have periods of recovery as well.

Tips how to decrease stress:

  • Try to prevent and reduce things stressing you.

  • Do physical activity, it will lower your stress hormones and increase your stress tolerance. 

  • Plan for recovery. Dare to do nothing! 

  • Breathe deeply, it inhibits stress reactions. Try f.ex. meditation, yoga,

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About the authors Jessica & Maria

Challengize health tips are written for us by Jessica Norrbom and Maria Ahlsén, both with PHDs in medicine. Since 2013 they run their own business Fortasana working mainly with diet, training and health from a scientific perspective. Maria and Jessica have written several books and regularly lecture focusing mainly on popular health myths and explain what is actually true from a scientific perspective when it comes to diets, trends and newspaper headlines.

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