When man first walked the earth, the stress response, fight or flight, was extremely beneficial. The fight or flight response is when hormones increase the heart rate and blood pressure, divert the flow of blood to major muscle group, dilate pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible. Blood sugar levels increase to provide energy to run or fight. Smooth muscles and non essential systems, such as the immune system and digestive system, relax or shut down to give more energy to the rest of the body. If you ran or fought, it would burn off those hormones and the changes would revert back to normal. There would be no negative effect of stress and your health. But fighting or running isn’t appropriate for most of the stresses faced by people today.
Stress plays a huge role in your health.
There are estimates that over three fourths of the visits to doctor’s offices are from ailments caused by stress. Almost half adults have a stress related illness. That doesn’t sound so far fetched when you consider that stress plays a huge role in high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. Remember, that when you’re under stress, the hormones of stress raise blood pressure and blood sugar levels. If you don’t burn off those hormones and those higher levels remain, you have a problem.
Stress shuts down non-essential systems like the immune system and digestive system.
Both of those leave you vulnerable to problems. When your immune system shuts down, it leaves you open to all types of illnesses. The immune system even plays a role in preventing cancer. If you’re prone to a specific disease or have a family history of it, stress opens the pathways and can encourage it to occur. Digestive problems occur and can create permanent changes. One of my clients said that when she started to workout, she had difficulty digesting many foods and after a few months, found most of those problems disappeared.
Stress may be the culprit that makes it easy to gain weight and tough to lose it.
Even though we’ve evolved a great deal, we’re still wired like our ancestors, the early hunter-gatherers. In stressful times, when food was scarce and conditions were harsh, people ate everything they could find no matter how full they were. It might, after all, have to last a long time. Stress brings that out in people today. People under stress may eat as much as 40 percent more food than they normally would, according to a study at the University of Miami. That’s why taking a brisk walk can help curb your appetite.
- You’ll burn off the hormones of stress with a regularly scheduled program of exercise. It mimics the actions of running or fighting that originally put the body back to normalcy.
- Stress can cause premature aging. It shortens the telomeres and that prevents new cell growth. It affets vision, muscles, skin tissue and more.
- Stress can cause damage to the teeth and gums. It triggers grinding and is linked to periodontal disease.
- Stress affects you emotionally. It can cause depression, anxiety and put you in a bad mood. Exercise can help you shake those problems and have you feeling good again.