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Stress and You – The Hidden Effects You May Not Know

When most people think of being stressed, they tend to think of the obvious impacts it has on them: feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, headaches, and possibly, stress eating.

Many don’t realize that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Stress is often called the ‘silent killer’ and for good reason. High levels of chronic stress will impact just about every element of your well-being.

Wondering how it might be impacting you?

Let’s take a closer look.

Stress, Overtraining And Adrenal Insufficiency

Overtraining is typically induced in a situation where total amount of stress being placed on the body is beyond the recovery capacity of the individual.

When most people think of overtraining, they tend to think that it’s simply related to physical training stress.

This however, is not always the case. Stress of any kind will still be a stressor on the body and can lead to the unwanted symptoms of overtraining syndrome.

If the individual continues to push forward, in severe scenarios, adrenal depletion/insufficiency may start to occur.  As noted in one study published in the Journal of Novel Physiotherapies, “Stress in the body can be physical, mental, emotional, or even imagined stress and all have the same impact on the release of hormones and the effect of stress on our body.”

Once this condition is present, it can take weeks, if not months to recover from.

Stress, Cortisol And Body Fat Distribution

Another way that stress may influence you is with how your body fat is distributed. Studies have indicated when individuals are highly stressed and are releasing more cortisol in their body, this can lead to a greater waist to hip ratio, putting them at risk for a number of diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

When high levels of cortisol are present in the blood, your chances of accumulating fat in the central region, which is considered to be the most dangerous area, will be greater.

Stress And Heart Disease

Finally, that high level of stress you experience on a daily basis may also be putting you at a greater risk for heart disease. You exercise each week to help keep your heart strong, but yet, that chronic work stress you face may be working in direction opposition to you.

One study in the Lancet journal noted that when subjects coming out of coronary atherosclerosis were assigned a low fat diet, exercise, and stress management, they saw sharp decrease in heart-health related issues compared the control group, who received no treatment at all.

The researchers concluded the study by stating that lifestyle changes may be able to bring about regression of even severe coronary atherosclerosis after only one year without the use of lipid-lowering drugs.

So if heart health is a concern of yours, it pays to keep your stress in check.

However you want to look at it, chronic stress is not going to benefit you in any positive manner, so it’s worth your time and effort to learn to best manage it. While it can be hard to avoid at all times, proper lifestyle changes, breathing techniques, and relaxation strategies can help you minimize the damage it has on your health and training progress.


Brooks, K., & Carter, J. (2013). Overtraining, Exercise, and Adrenal Insufficiency. Journal of Novel Physiotherapies3(125), 11717.

Moyer, Anne E., et al. "Stress‐Induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women." Obesity research 2.3 (1994): 255-262.

Ornish, Dean, et al. "Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease?: The Lifestyle Heart Trial." The Lancet 336.8708 (1990): 129-133.

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