How Stress Affects Our Training

Before we dig into how stress affects our training and our bodies. We have to look into a survey that was done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where they claim the leading causes of stress are.

  1. Poor Health – Poor health can lead to a numerous amount of issues , that can be associated with increase of stress.
  2. Disability or Chronic Illness – When we are not able to do something like walk or see due to a disability or chronic illness it can bring stress to our lives if we have to rely on others to accomplish tasks.
  3. Low Income – Having to worry about where your next meal will come from or how will I pay rent is 1 of the leading causes of stress. Knowing how to budget your money can reduce the effects this can have you.
  4. Experiencing dangerous situations at home or at work – Seeing a traumatic incident like someone dying , hurt or maybe you were a victim of abuse all play a roll in our stress levels.
  5. Being a single or teen parent – The responsibility of another life to support , protect and care for is extremely stressful and can lead to depression and other issues.

Perception is Everything

The definition of perception is

the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
“the normal limits to human perception”
  • the state of being or process of becoming aware of something through the senses.
    “the perception of pain”
  • a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
    “Hollywood’s perception of the tastes of the American public”

Can stress be transformed into biochemical and physiologic mechanisms that result in cardiovascular disease?  

In a recent study they put this to the test. Where the research supported that stress can lead to both biochemical & physiologic resulting in either a Stroke or a Heart Attack.

“They checked their hypothesis by looking at radioactive imaging of the brain, bone marrow, and aorta with positron emission tomography (PET) scanning.  What they found was that as a patients perceived stress score increased the degree of amygdala activation, bone marrow activation, and aortic inflammation all increased proportionally.  Also CRP (c reactive protein) levels (a blood test that is associated with global inflammation) was also increased with increased stress scores.  Finally, and most importantly, patients with high amygdalar activity had more clinical events!” credit to (

What can cause stress ?

Ironically enough there are 2 main factors and they go hand and hand.

  1. Work – Regarding work if you work less than 25 hours a week the event rate starts to climb.  If you work more than 55 hours a week the event rate also climbs. The sweet spot is in between. This probably relates to being underemployed and financially stressed at the low end, and being overworked and stressed out at the high end.

2. Sleep – Sleep is similar. The sweet spot is from 6-9 hours with less or more associated with increased death.  Too little sleep is probably related to increased stress and worry and also poor sleep quality.  Also, too little and           too much sleep are both factors in major depression.  The great thing is that adjusting your sleep time actually reduces your risk so this is something that should be worked on.


How does this all affect your workout ?

The number 1 thing you should be concerned about regarding your training is recovery. The number 1 factor that can hurt your recovery is STRESS. There are millions of Americans who deal with stress. 77% of American adults have reported that stress affects their training progress.


Cortisol and Body Composition – Learning how stress affects and works in our body


Before we can fully have knowledge of stress. We first need to understand Cortisol affects the body.



“In a culture where chronic stress seems to have been normalized because it’s something that nearly everyone experiences , it’s crucial that we learn how it can affect our health. Although we are still at the beginning of our understanding of how the human brain works, our thoughts, and state of mind can end up affecting our physical health.

To truly understand how cortisol can affect your body composition, we first need to look at how high levels of the stress hormone affect different components of the body. To keep things simple, we’ll be using the 2 Component (2C) model, which consists of Lean Body Mass and Fat Mass.”

First, let’s examine how the stress hormone affects your Lean Body Mass (more specifically, your muscles and muscular development). As far back as 1964, researchers have suggested this hormone hampers protein synthesis. Protein synthesis = development of new muscle.

Researchers mimicked a stressed state in healthy test subjects by adding cortisol to their systems via IV and oral tablets. They found that cortisol and inactivity were linked with loss of Lean Body Mass, muscle loss, and negatively affected body composition overall. While inactivity can have this effect alone, the catabolic effect of cortisol seemed to play a significant role in muscle loss.

While we may not understand everything about the stress hormone yet, researchers are beginning to understand the effect that chronic stress can have on muscle recovery.

Article Credit to ( )


5 Ways Stress Hurts Your Workouts


Your brain plays tricks on you

According to research done by the Journal of Sport and Exercise Physiology, cognitive fatigue (or brain tiredness) brought on by stress can make you think you’re working out harder and more effectively than you actually are. A study in which expert runners ran two races on a track put this to the test. They ran once while experiencing cognitive fatigue and once without. The runners finished with much faster times when they weren’t under stress. But they felt they had put in the same amount of effort both times. In short: a busy, stressed brain makes for fake fitness success.

Similarly, worry and anxiety can stunt performance by decreasing coordination and motor control. A study from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center explains that stress has an immediate effect on your cerebellum—the information processor in your brain responsible for movement and motor control throughout the body.


Recovery slows

Working out puts its own type of stress on your body. Muscles are broken down and rebuilt and as a result you become stronger. While this is a normal cycle on its own, the process gets mucked up when your body is dealing with another kind of stress simultaneously. Persistent emotional stress limits your body’s ability to recover from other forms of stress, including exercise. In short, if your battery is already drained, adding emotional duress to the mix is a recipe for disaster.

In two studies— one from the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research and the other from Yale University—participants’ stress levels were measured before doing a single workout. After the fact, their recovery time and levels were recorded. Both tests found that participants with lower stress levels experienced greater recovery in a shorter amount of time.


Risk of injury goes up

Two products of stress can result in increased risk of injury: excessive muscle tension and decreased focus.

Muscle tension happens when the physiological effects of stress cause blood vessels to compress and blood flow to nerves, tendons, and muscles to lessen. Waste continues to fill those muscles and oxygen drops, resulting in tension.

Tension can cause pain and muscle spasms that may move from one group of muscles to another. The pain can worsen with more stress, so relieving it is paramount. Stretch and take deep, relaxing breaths. Yoga flows and routines are ideal for calming yourself down. Other methods for relief include massage therapy, acupuncture, and (ironically) movement. The latter helps you loosen up. When paired with a fitness routine, it can make you resilient to recurring tension.

Decreased focus isn’t as easy to understand. Keeping a flexible focus is pertinent to cardio activities. If you’re experiencing emotional stress, you may find yourself focused on your problems and not able to split your attention to the various elements of your workout that require focus. For example, if you’re running on a treadmill, you need to pay attention to your pace and time as well as your form. Stress makes it difficult to focus on multiple things at once. This could lead to working out with poor form or missing the moments when you need to change your pace. You may also miss your body’s cues that it is exhausted and you need to back off of a difficult workout.


Weight loss gets harder

Long-term stress can ruin on your weight loss efforts. It all comes down to a hormone called cortisol. Dubbed the “stress hormone,” cortisol’s purpose is to get you out of danger by raising blood sugar, blood pressure, and controlling your immune reaction. Good? Not always.

Cortisol is released in higher amounts when you’re feeling intense pressure. Higher levels of cortisol encourage insulin production which can rev up your sugar cravings. As if you didn’t want sweets already (you know, because of all that stress). On top of that, extra cortisol may attack muscle mass, slowing your metabolism dramatically.

In one study, 500 participants were monitored to see if sleep, depression, and yes—stress—have a direct effect on weight loss. Each person was given a diet and exercise plan that was low fat, low sugar, and full of fruits and veggies. Their daily caloric intake was reduced by 500 calories and they performed 180 minutes of exercise per week. In the following weeks they were weighed, kept food journals, and recorded any stress, depression, and insomnia they experienced.

Results were quick to show that stress and sleep were the strongest indicators of weight loss or gain. Those who experienced little-to-no stress and got more than 6-8 hours of sleep regularly, lost significantly more weight than those with high stress and lack of sleep. In fact, some with reportedly high levels of stress gained weight throughout the study.


Stored fat increases

Remember those cravings and the slowdown in metabolism that cortisol causes? Well, it also triggers the storage of more fat cells. The fat cells surrounding your abdomen are sensitive to insulin and more responsive to cortisol. This is why any gained fat will first reside near your stomach and not, say, your bum. As stress levels go up, cortisol goes up, and so does fat storage.

The moral of the story? You’re unlikely to see the results you want to see from your fitness routine if you’re living in a constant state of high stress. It’s important to find ways to decompress. Consider adding yoga to your routine or trying fitness journaling.


Article Credit :


I am not an expert on any subject relating to this article. I used clips from various articles to formulate this one. All articles used were given their credit and acknowledgement. This is simply trying to bring useful information to my readers and followers.



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