Walking vs. Running = Tea vs. Coffee… The stress factor

I recently read an article in my gym’s monthly magazine on ‘Why you’re not getting results’.


Apparently we are 100 times more stressed than our grandparents were!

When we are stressed the body is working overtime releasing hormones and cortisol to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar levels and help fight stress and inflammation. Over an extended period of time when we don’t come back to homeostasis, the result is a slowed metabolism among other things and we end up with a hormonal imbalance that will not only effect us physically but emotionally too. Stress effects every system in your body.

Now the most interesting thing that I got from this article was that although we all know that exercise is good to combat stress, some exercise can also exacerbate it. ‘Exercise places additional physical stress on the body, most of the time this is beneficial and can help you combat psychological stress. However if you push a stressed body too hard you could push yourself over the edge, which is what we call burnout.’

So if you’ve had a crazy day at work and think to stop off at the gym on the way home to run it out at 12.5 on the treadmill until you’re sweating all over the place, panting like a dog and praying for someone to carry you home to bed… this may not be the best thing for you.

We need to determine our stress levels at the given time and modify our exercise to accommodate for our bodies needs.

Low stress people can basically do what they like.

Medium-High stress individuals need to monitor the intensity of their workouts. For these people high-intensity workouts will most likely be draining their bodies and thus detrimental to their health. These people need to use lighter weights with longer recovery, do only medium-intensity cardio and incorporate stress-reducing activities into their life such as yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage etc. And obviously try and lay off the excess booze, cigarettes, coffee etc.

So as I was driving across the harbour bridge yesterday from the peace and quiet of the North Shore, to the crazy fast-paced and highly stressed city, I was thinking about the different between drinking tea and coffee again. Like attracts like, so when we lived in a fast-paced, high-stress environment, we are encouraged and/or drawn to fast-paced activities. Eg. coffee-drinking, running/high-intensity sports, rowdy nights at the pub… All of which are the opposite of what we need to reduce stress and lead happier, healthier and calmer lives.

Most all of our activities are making things worse. Going for a brisk walk in the morning before work is going to be much better for you than downing a cup of black coffee and running your heart out to N.E.R.D for 40 minutes.

So my advice for today, have a cup of tea, go for a walk, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds… and let your body thank you for slowing down and giving it time to see how beautiful the trees are and how good the grass smells. And I will start by setting a good example for the three people out there who so far read my blog and go for a morning walk just now. Stay tuned for a more-smiling, less-stressed me.


1 Response to “Walking vs. Running = Tea vs. Coffee… The stress factor”

  1. July 13, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Ahh I wonder… Am I this medium-high stressed individual, one of the many “not getting results”? We’ll have to see.
    Just reading your post gave me a sense of ‘slow-down, chill-out’ reservedness, so I think that you’re definitely pointing us in the right directions as far as leisure exercise and de-stressing.
    I know that my high-intensity, fast-paced life from work to school to playing competitive soccer is probably a little hard on my body, but usually we can work out a quiet day on the weekend to go out and walk in the grass to watch the sun rise smell the roses.
    Thanks for reminding me to stop and BREATHE for once.


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July 2010

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