This article is written by Kat Millar and was published in Great Health Guide (February 2016 – issue 8).
Fitness: The Importance of Rest & Repair Part 3 – written by Kat Millar
This is the final article in the series on the importance of rest and repair. In the second article I considered the processes and ways where the body under stress needs to repair itself in order to maintain optimal health. As discussed last month, at high stress levels cortisol levels rise. Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands which release energy from our natural body store in response to physical, mental or emotional stress. However, if we have too much cortisol due to continued high stress, it can produce a number of negative side effects, such as raising our blood sugar and lowering our immunity.
Stress and increased cortisol can lead to an increased appetite and cravings causing the body to store fat around the waist.
How to improve rest and repair
As a continuation from last month, these additional tips can help you to truly rest and repair your body if your body is producing an excessive amount of cortisol.
1. Exercise increases brain output of serotonin and dopamine.
Exercise increases brain output of serotonin and dopamine, which are brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression, promoting better sleep. With this in mind, it is recommended to limit resistance training sessions to no longer than an hour as cortisol levels start rising after 45-60 minutes of weight training.
2. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates
Avoiding sugar and refined carbs, stops your body from spiking your insulin production. Eating frequent small meals balanced in protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables and good fats like olive oil and flax seed oil is beneficial.
3. Keep well hydrated
Dehydration puts the body in stress and raises cortisol levels. Keep filtered water by your bed and drink it when you first wake up and carry a bottle with you and sip water throughout the day.
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4. Take natural supplements
Stress-reducing supplements include B and C vitamins, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, chromium and zinc, as well as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and Omega 3 from sources such as fish oil capsules, salmon, flaxseed oil or walnuts. These can not only lower cortisol levels but they can also help you decrease the effects of stress on the body by boosting the immune system.
5. Make choices that reduce the stress in your life
You may wish to hire help for some of your tasks which are becoming too much. Alternatively, you could ask for help from friends or talk about any negative emotions. I find that journaling really helps me to get things into perspective.
6. Choose thoughts that are based on reason
High emotional responses can trigger cortisol spikes. Many of us are constantly worried, we have our minds on negative thoughts and have worries which can cause fears that can consume us. It’s so important to be aware of what we’re watching and listening to.
7. Listen to uplifting and positive audiobooks
Feed your mind with uplifting and positive sources and make time to read fun books often! This can help keep things in perspective and give your mind the peace you may need.
8. Relax regularly
Take time out of your busy schedule to relax and enjoy life!
A walk in nature is a great change from a vigorous routine
Try yoga instead of your high intensity training session occasionally
Listen to relaxing music or relaxation CD’s
Have a regular massage
Listen to your body if you ‘hit a wall’ in your energy levels; it may be a sign that you’re over-training and over-stressing your body
Sometimes a sleep-in is more beneficial long term, than the few hundred calories you’d get from your cardio session. You can make up for it another time when you have more energy.
These simple changes in life style will assist in the repair of your body while minimising the stress of a busy lifestyle.
Author of this article:
Kat Millar works with people globally to improve their health, confidence and energy. Since 2003, through her coaching, training, online programs and seminars, Kat has helped almost a thousand people to achieve their goals. Kat is an award-winning figure competitor, fitness lecturer and NLP practitioner and has a passion for nutrition and behavioral psychology. Kat offers a range of programs for total body transformation and can be contacted through her website or her Facebook page.
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