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The Detrimental Effects Of Stress

stressed person with hands on their head

This article is written by our guest author, Future Fit Training. 

Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives, most of the time it’s on a daily basis. But do we really understand the effect it is having on our bodies and minds? By understanding the short and long-term impacts we can aim to control the stress reaction as effectively as possible. 

The Physical Response 

Our bodies can react to moments of acute stress by exhibiting musculoskeletal pain, such as when we are rushing around at work or in our everyday lives. For instance, persistent muscle tension in the shoulders, neck, and cranium is linked to migraines and tension headaches. Once the stress has subsided, the muscles will typically relieve the tension. Chronic stress, on the other hand, results in a relatively continuous state of muscle tension, which increases the risk of stress-related injuries as well as physiologic and metabolic disorders. 

What about dizziness and irritable bowels? Once more, stress can have an impact on this by interfering with the brain-gut connection. As the intestinal barrier that guards the body against germs weakens, this may cause pain, bloating, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal distress. 

The Psychological Response 

Stress affects the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.

The amygdala, a part of the brain involved in processing emotions, transmits distress signals to the hypothalamus when we experience stress. This acts as a focal point for communication, triggering the body’s stress reactions via the nervous system. Our body is then forced into survival mode, which results in the natural “fight or flight” reaction, altering a number of physiological processes. These include a rise in the levels of stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline. 

When it comes to exercise, cortisol is a hormone that personal trainers get to know and appreciate. It serves to increase the amount of energy fuel that is available throughout the day and is produced in a variety of amounts based on time and stimulus. 

For health & exercise professionals such as personal trainers and nutrition coaches, stress can impact you and your clients greatly, especially when considering training plans and diets. Stress can affect not only the desire to eat but also digestion and the absorption of nutrients. One of the most popular client goals a personal trainer will hear is that a client wants to work on their problem areas, especially the stomach! 

A whole host of problems can manifest from stress in your client’s life, this could be an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and difficulty breathing.  

In conclusion, the extrinsic or intrinsic stimulus that sets off these stress responses may have both beneficial and detrimental effects, which we must be conscious of and work to control. 

Stress negatively affects health by promoting the emergence of numerous physical and mental health conditions because it is simple to turn stress into a cause-and-effect chain.

While we are able to handle short-term stresses, prolonged contact is a different story. 

Therefore, whether stress leads to a series of chronic changes or whether its effects on the body are morbidly severe, depends on its severity, type, and duration.

Managing stress and mental well-being is important to help maintain general health and, as health and fitness professionals, we can become better equipped to support our clients through training in mental wellbeing or life coaching.   

This blog post was authored by Future Fit Training – a leading training provider, offering courses in nutrition, personal training and much more.

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