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When stressed, how much exercise do you need?
As you know, stress management always includes recommendations for physical exercise. But which type and how much exercise do you need?
Once again, this is a confusing and contradictory subject. Aerobic, resistance, high-intensity, light, moderate, and numerous other schools of thought exist.
However, the type, intensity, and quantity of exercise that may be best for you depends on several factors.
As you may have seen in stress and nutrition, various stages of stress place specific demands on a variety of essential nutrients. In addition, the longer you remain in stress the greater the effects become on your energy producing glands as well.
As such, it is important to know:
- Your current stage of stress
- Your current nutrient imbalances
- Your current glandular efficiency
This is important information related to your metabolism and helps determine your best type, intensity, and quantity of exercise.
Mental stress and physical exercise produce similar effects.
The mind and body react to stress in a very similar manner whether it is a mental or physical stressor.
Here’s how it works…
Let’s say you have been mentally stressed for some time and are currently in the chronic resistance stage of stress. This is more common than you may realize. However, nutrient imbalances have become much more severe in this long-term stress response. In addition, your adrenal glands have been over-worked (pumping adrenaline) for some time. Because adrenaline is NOT a long-term energy source, this results in weakened adrenal glands.
What does a high-intensity aerobic or resistance exercise program do? It places additional demands on the adrenal glands – more adrenaline!
In fact, since adrenaline and noradrenaline are the main hormones whose concentrations increase markedly during exercise, many researchers have worked on the effect of exercise on these amines and reported 1.5 to >20 times basal concentrations depending on exercise characteristics (e.g. duration and intensity).Zouhal H, Jacob C, Delamarche P, Gratas-Delamarche A. Catecholamines and the effects of exercise, training and gender. Sports Med. 2008;38(5):401-23. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200838050-00004. PMID: 18416594. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18416594/
Think for a moment, if your adrenal glands are already weakened from long-term mental stress, why would you choose to further weaken these important glands through excessive physical stressors? Simply put, this will further contribute toward additional nutrient imbalances and easily becomes counterproductive toward your health and wellness goals.
In this instance, a light exercise program (i.e., walking, gardening, yard work, bicycling, yoga, swimming, dancing, etc.) that does not place additional demands on your adrenals would better serve you. A light exercise program would also allow you the opportunity to replenish deficient nutrients, reduce excessive nutrients, and at the same time help rebuild the adrenals.
This can’t be right because I always feel better after an intense workout!
Of course you do!
It is common to discuss your current exercise program during a consultation in an effort to find stressors that may be contributing to overworking your adrenal glands.
It is common for people to resist the notion that their exercise program could be causing a problem because they “feel so good” after exercising. They don’t realize the importance of making changes in their exercise program that will help reduce the adrenal response and contribute toward a healthier life.
However, keep in mind your hypothalamus and pituitary gland are producing myriad “feel-good” endorphins and other neuropeptides (enkephalins – natural painkillers) as well as signaling the adrenals to produce more adrenaline and other stress hormones.
In general, the release of endorphins is understood to be associated with the body’s response to pain. The pain relief experienced as a result of the release of endorphins has been determined to be greater than that of morphine. β-endorphin (an endogenous opioid) is one of the neurochemicals involved with exercise-induced euphoria (runner’s high). Additionally, endorphins have been found to be associated with states of pleasure, including such emotions brought upon by laughter, love, sex, and even appetizing food.Chaudhry SR, Gossman W. Biochemistry, Endorphin. [Updated 2022 Apr 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470306/
So, don’t mistake very powerful endorphins (greater than morphine!) and other neuropeptides produced in response to prolonged, continuous exercise with a natural and healthy state of wellbeing.
As you may see at this point, choosing the wrong type, duration, and intensity of exercise could easily become counterproductive to your stress reduction and health goals.
Also, it is important to know the adrenal glands have relationships with your thyroid, thymus, liver, kidneys, and other glands and organs. They also help maintain proper digestion, sex hormone production, cellular integrity, nutrient transport, sodium and potassium regulation, and are one of our main energy producing glands. This is a short list but should reveal the importance of adrenal health.
Can a hair analysis help reveal my best exercise needs?
A hair analysis can prove helpful for planning your most beneficial exercise program.
As seen in Improve my Energy, a hair analysis can help reveal the efficiency of two primary energy glands – the thyroid and adrenals. Of course, this is through a nutritional evaluation due to the elements that each gland helps regulate. This is not diagnostic.
The thyroid/parathyroid and adrenals are major glands regulating your metabolism and regulate macro minerals in the body. For example, the thyroid/parathyroid helps regulate calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous and the adrenals sodium and potassium.
Your adrenal glands produce many different hormones and one is the mineralocorticoids produced in the adrenal cortex. Mineralocorticoids are recognized as being basically responsible for maintaining sodium and potassium levels. Sodium, potassium, and the sodium/potassium pump are an integral part of the nutrient transport system responsible for nutrient absorption and cellular health. This link is worth following.
A hair analysis reveals excesses or deficiencies of these macro minerals. In addition, essential micro minerals (trace minerals) and toxic elements (heavy metals) influence the metabolic functions of macro minerals. This ultimately affects glandular function and your metabolism.
Due to the effects of stress on these endocrine glands and the resultant mineral imbalances, you gain a much clearer picture of the exercise program that would be the most beneficial for your health.
In addition, our hair analysis includes a list of healthy foods to increase and avoid. These recommendations help rebalance your nutrient levels and supply much-needed nutrients for glandular support. Foods and supplement recommendations are based on nutrient interrelationships.
As you begin to heal, your exercise programs can change as well.
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