Let’s get physical.
As one form of reducing stress is proven to be exercise, it makes total sense to get to understand that fact scientifically. What hormones are fluctuating and playing a big role in our bodies that make us hit the gym? And how the alteration of the level of these hormones post a workout make us leave the gym feeling 100 times better and at ease?
It’s all chemistry by the way, cortisol is the major hormone that is affected by exercise.
Cortisol is the vicious little hormone that gets released under intense situations. It’s the culprit that makes you feel stressed and down. Think fight or flight, think waiting to enter an exam room, that kind of stress is an indication of elevated cortisol levels which, over time, can increase your risk of developing depression, obesity, insomnia, heart disease and digestive problems. Cortisol promotes the release of glucose into your blood, providing a source of fuel, that powerhouse that calls for acting out.. Cortisol also suppresses your digestive and immune systems.
Regular exercise can help reduce your cortisol and stress levels. That’s why after a really efficient exercise session you feel much better. It’s because you managed to dilute the negative effects of cortisol while employing it in an ideal manner..
However, what puts your body at risk is constantly elevated cortisol levels. Extremely tough and hard exercising to the point where you feel you’re about to faint or hurl is in fact another way to increase cortisol in your body..In that case, and contrary to what you may think, the body is more likely to store fat, especially in the belly area. Bottom line, feeling super stressed and opting for an extremely intense workout session is exposing your body to double the cortisol..
You’re probably thinking this is so unfair, wasn’t working out meant to be go hard or go home? Working out to release stress and look great while your body is actually perceiving it as a tool to store fat? That’s not what you signed up for right?
Which brings us to believing the following fact.. Missing a workout could actually be your key to losing weight… Simply skip one workout, or two. Taking time off to chill out can help your body recover and moderate that cortisol level, decreasing your body’s tendency to hang on to fat and increasing its ability to metabolize energy.
Recently, cortisol-conscious workouts are becoming very popular. This workout should aim to give you an efficient session without triggering your body’s stress response. It tends to be shorter in duration (think 30 to 40 minutes) and veer away from high impact, high-intensity training styles like HIIT.
Bottom line.. If you’re firmly committed to traditional HIIT workouts, all the more power to you! If you’re enjoying it and are getting the results you want, there’s no reason you should have to give it up. However, if you’re going through a particularly stressful time or are finding it hard to shift fat no matter what you do, you may want to consider taking a break or consult your trainer of cortisol-conscious styles of training.