Stress is such an interesting phenomenon. It’s rarely pleasant, and often prevents us from living our lives to our fullest potential. Everyone experiences stress at some point each day to varying degrees, yet it is all too often disregarded as a major factor in our health. It may seem like you are doing all the right things. Eating right, working out, getting enough sleep, but if you are still unable to see results or achieve your fitness goals, stress may be the culprit. Continue reading Could Stress Be Hindering Your Health?
This time of the year, the holiday season, can be particularly stressful. So here are some stress reduction tips to not only get you through the holiday season, but through the rest of the year. Do these symptoms of stress seem familiar to you?
Continue reading Proven Stress Busting Tips
By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor
- Everyone handles stress differently. Some people will eat less during that time, and others will eat more. Although there is no way to avoid stress and strain, there are ways to minimize the effects these pressures have on your mental and physical health. You can adjust your dietary habits to help you cope better.
- Some stress is good for us. It is what gets us up in the morning and on to doing productive things, especially if we have a good attitude about the things we are about to do. Some stress frequently comes cloaked in worry, anger, frustration, and fear; and it is these stresses, called distress, that are the most harmful to your health. The physical responses to stress causes our heart to race, our blood pressure to go up, and our stress hormones adrenalin and corticosteroids to flood our system in response to modern day “threats”.
- In today’s world, we often do not have physical methods to relieve this pressure. We create the stress level we are in, and then we “stew” in it. Many experts feel that long-term ongoing stress can be dangerous. Stress hormones can linger in the bloodstream, blood cholesterol and sugar levels stay high, and nerve chemicals circulate in record numbers. Such prolonged stress can lead to cardiovascular problems, peptic ulcers, asthma, and a variety of cancers. It can also put a strain on the immune system, further reducing resistance to colds, infections, and disease.
- Stress and diet are closely interrelated. A deficiency in any nutrient can cause a strain on all the metabolic processes dependent on that nutrient. Small amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C weaken the body’s antioxidant defenses, exposing the tissues to increased risk of damage and disease. In addition, how well your body is nourished prior to and during a stress response affects how well you handle the stress. A well-nourished person copes better than a poorly nourished one.
- For many people, eating habits are at their worst during periods of high stress. They can either forget to eat, or overload with an abundance of food. Consequently, a person can be more vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies during periods of stress than any other time in their lives.
- Mental and emotional stresses will affect the body in very similar ways. The immune system is the body’s main defense system against foreign bodies or abnormal growth cells, such as cancer cells. In a healthy state, people are able to count on the functioning of their immune system and protection against any further disease process. Optimum nutrition and low stress levels can provide years of good health, happiness, and a longer life free of disease.
- Research studies by the USDA found the effect of work-related stress on mineral status was greatly compromised during periods of stress by as much as a 33% reduction. These studies were especially true of the nutrients, potassium, magnesium, B vitamin complexes, and antioxidants of vitamin A, C, and E. Associated nutrients also compromised by stress responses are zinc, chromium, copper, and iron. In addition, these levels will quickly return to normal levels with vitamin-mineral supplementation and by eating foods high in these nutrients.
- Carbohydrates, protein, and caloric needs do increase the metabolic rate during a stressful event by as much as 13%.
- Stress will release the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal glands. Cortisol turns on the release in the brain for high carbohydrate or sugary-type foods, especially sweets. It will be important to have protein based foods on these days to avoid the “sugar response” to stress. Milk-based foods will allow the body to release calming levels of the body hormone, serotonin.
- Suggestions for healthy de-stressing habits include:
- Avoid tobacco
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Sleep at least seven hours a night
- Work fewer than ten hours a day
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy breakfast, and just eat a nutrient-packed, low fat diet overall
- Cope effectively with stress
- Positive beliefs, attitudes, and expectations, including hope, trust, love, faith, and laughter turn otherwise stressful events into more pleasurable ones and greatly reduces the risk of suppressing the immune system. In fact, these positive emotions can actually enhance immunity!
For more information or coaching on how to manage your stress & diet, contact Rita Larsen. If you’re just interested in the types of health & nutrition programs we offer at Elite Sports Clubs, check out our website.
Do your eating patterns change when you are stressed? Do you eat more or less, and does the quality (healthiness) of the food differ? Tell us in the comments!
May 1st embarks the first day of the month-long journey known as Exercise is Medicine® Month. This is the time for you, your family, co-workers, friends and others to advocate and promote physical activity as a lifestyle change.
There is no question that regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do to keep your body healthy and strong. In fact, a large body of research confirms that performing moderate-intensity physical activity on a regular basis can help you live longer and reduce health problems. In fact, people who exercise can avoid many common health issues, including obesity and high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Exercise also strengthens the muscles and bones, which can reduce your risk of osteoporosis as you grow older, and may even lower the risk of many diseases, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease and some cancers. Regular physical activity improves sleep, increases energy, lowers stress levels and helps you maintain your independence. As a healthy adult, the key for you to maximize the benefits of exercise is to find activities you really enjoy and to follow a well-designed program that you can stick with over the long-term.
- Talk with your healthcare practitioner before starting an exercise program and ask for specific programming recommendations.
- The goals of your program should be to improve cardiovascular fitness, increase muscle strength and endurance, and improve range of motion.
- If you are new to exercise, choose low-impact activities such as walking, cycling or water exercises, which involve large muscles groups and can be done continuously. Fitness classes geared toward beginners also are a good choice. If you’ve been fairly active until now, however, you can choose from a wide range of activities, including running, swimming, boot camp classes and sports like tennis or basketball. The key is to find something you love so you’ll stick with it over time.
- If your fitness level is low, start with shorter sessions (10 to 15 minutes) and gradually build up to at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. If you are trying to lose weight, try to increase the amount of time you exercise to 60 minutes per day—research suggests this will help you shed unwanted pounds.
- Perform some type of strength training and whole-body range-of-motion exercises two to three days per week. This could include circuit training, high-intensity interval training, traditional strength training and even yoga.
- End each session with stretching exercises for the whole body. Consider taking a yoga or tai chi class for both flexibility and mind-body benefits.
- Closely monitor your intensity level and stay within your recommended target heart-rate zone. Take frequent breaks during activity if needed.
- Wear good-fitting, activity-appropriate shoes and comfortable clothing, and don’t forget to drink fluids before, during and after your activity to avoid becoming dehydrated.
- If your fitness level is low to begin with, start slowly and gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
- Stop exercising immediately if you experience any pain or shortness of breath. Contact your physician if you experience chest pain, labored breathing or extreme fatigue.
Your exercise program should be modified to maximize the benefits while minimizing your risk of injury. Consider contacting a certified fitness professional who can work with you to establish realistic goals and design a safe and effective program that addresses your specific needs.
(From Exercise is Medicine®. View original resource.)