Stress and Exercise – should you take a rest day?

The links between stress and exercise usually refer to working out being stress relieving, but if you’re already stressed, should you be exercising at all?

Exercise, while good for you, is another stress on your body. In fact it’s this stress that make it fitter and stronger, as your body adapts to be able to deal with the same stress (and more) next time you workout.

The flip side is that you also need adequate recovery in the form of sleep, rest, good food and hydration.

Other things which speed up recovery and de-stress are yoga or pilates, meditation, stretching, massage, and some supplements such as tart cherry, curcumin and ginger, though these shouldn’t be relied on in place of adequate rest.

Stress could be psychological such as a bad day at work or the kids playing up, or it could be physical like a cold.

Here’s my quotes from the article I helped with on the Metro Newspaper website:

‘Chronic, ongoing stress will mean your body is taxed, tired, will tire more quickly, and recover more slowly,’ Polly tells Metro.co.uk ‘It doesn’t have to be mental stress like a bad day at work; not enough sleep, catching a cold, and alcohol are all “stressors” on the body, and performance will suffer.’

All these effects of stress sound pretty bad – so what should you do if you’re stressed out but want to work out? Do you really have to avoid exercise?

Polly doesn’t think so, and she’s highlighted some of the benefits of working out when you’re stressed. ‘Acute stress may actually help exercise performance,’ says Polly. ‘The adrenaline of “fight or flight” gives you energy by instructing your liver to release stored sugar into your bloodstream for energy. ‘Also, cortisol is naturally high in the morning to wake us up, making first thing a great time to exercise.’

Read the full article on the Metro website here.