COLUMNIST: Battling stress is key to fit and healthy lifestyle

Fitness expert Ollie Booth brings you his top tips.Fitness expert Ollie Booth brings you his top tips.
Fitness expert Ollie Booth brings you his top tips.
Our health and fitness expert Ollie Booth brings us his final part of his overall strategy to stay fit and mentally healthy.

The penultimate part of the Complete Fitness Strategy is Stress and Mental Health. It’s important to understand the impact the body can have on the mind and vice versa!

One of the most common things we struggle with is stress. So, let’s take a look at the impact stress can have on aspects of health and fitness, and what you can do to keep it in check.

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While there are many elements to stress, we are going to look at the effects of cortisol; one of the hormones released when we’re stressed.

How does stress interact with other aspects of health and fitness?

There are so many ways but let’s look at a couple of ways stress may be affecting weight loss.

Maybe you’ve started your weight loss journey and are currently inactive. You join the gym and aim for 5 sessions a week. Trouble is, while exercise is great for weight loss, it is an additional stress to the body. If your cortisol levels are already too high you may suffer from fatigue and an increased chance of illness. Aiming for a 20 minute walk each day may be more beneficial until your stress levels are in a better place.

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Another example is the effect too much cortisol can have on your appetite. For weight loss you know you need to eat a bit less. The elevated cortisol can increase the release of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, and suppress the release of the satiety hormone, leptin. Feeling hungrier and less full at the time when we are trying to restrict our intake makes it tough!

So, what can you do about your stress levels?

Do an honest evaluation. Look at your job, your relationships and how you spend your day. Can you can improve your mindset? Do you need support or to change your environment? What is causing the stress?

Work with a counsellor. Sometimes managing stress requires some work to get to the root of the problem.

Mindfulness, breathing techniques and meditation. The more present we can be, the less we worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Make the time to include these moments in your day.

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Take time to relax. Sounds obvious but is often overlooked. Having a bit of escape time is essential.

Keep an eye on sleep. It can be easy to get into a vicious cycle; you can’t sleep well because you’re stressed and then you get more stressed because you’re tired. Keep an eye out for the sleep article to come!

Have less screen time. Electronic devices do a good job at stopping us from switching off! With the constant distraction of notifications, emails or social media, again being present can become difficult.

Move your body. Like I mentioned earlier, you need to be careful with the intensity if you are feeling stressed. But getting some of the right intensity exercise will help you manage stress better, improve your mood and improve your sleep.

It can be difficult to know where to start, but trust me, change can happen. Feel free to contact me here .​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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