Train your body to defeat stress
About the Author
Dr. Spindler is a practicing chiropractor with 18 years experience specializing in chronic conditions and sports injuries. He has also been a personal trainer and strength coach for over 40 years with a certification as a strength and conditioning specialist. Through college and beyond he competed in bodybuilding shows, and powerlifting competitions throughout the New England circuit. He can be reached at 530-544-4400.
What exactly is stress? According to numerous medical, psychological and chiropractic associations, there isn’t an exact definition of stress. Stress comes in many forms and has countless sources.
To simplify the matter of what stress actually is, we can identify it as the body’s reaction to any change that your body must adjust or respond to.
This applies to physical stress (intense workouts, sitting for long periods of time, sports injuries, chronic pain or auto injuries), chemical stress (cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, insecticides and fertilizers, unfiltered tap water and prescription medicine) and finally we have emotional stress (personal relationships, career, grief, finances).
Although we have exposures to various sources of stress, emotional stress seems to be the most prevalent.
First we have eustress. This is the good stuff. Eustress is when we experience a boost in adrenaline when mountain biking on a challenging trail, skiing down a steep hill or surfing a big wave. This kind of stress is actually healthy.
Next we have acute stress. This may come from either positive or negative experiences. This form of stress can also be a healthy experience. Acute stress is a normal part of life and our bodies are well wired to deal with this.
We also have episodic acute stress. This is where acutely stressful situations are the norm throughout the day. Crisis-based living has become the lifestyle. Surely you know someone like this. I refer to these types of people as “poop magnets.” As you might guess, this form of stress is not healthy.
Last, but definitely not least, is chronic stress. This type of stress is caused by long-term complicated situations such as bad career choices or an unhappy marriage. Chronic stress is probably the most common and the most dangerous form of stress.
Whichever form of stress you may be experiencing, first you must identify it. If your stress is in the form of episodic acute stress, chronic stress, daily exposure to chemical toxins or negative types of physical stress (desk jobs, back breaking physical labor) it’s time to take some serious action steps.
Although the various medical, psychological and chiropractic associations haven’t agreed upon a single definition for stress, they all agree that almost all sickness and disease can be linked to stress.
Chronic exposure to bad forms of stress reduces our “fight or flight threshold.” Additionally, long-term exposure to bad forms of stress will over stimulate a part of the brain called the amygdala. Chronically increasing activity of the amygdala leads to systemic inflammation.
This is only part of the picture regarding how chronic stress can lead to chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, weakened immune response, cancer, depression, brain fog, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Lucky for us fighting off the serious effects of stress is just a workout away!
Before I get onto my exercise soapbox, there are other great methods of fighting stress that are extremely effective and recommended for the long term. We have meditation, nutrition, learning an art or craft and overall lifestyle change (new job or eliminating unhealthy relationships) as options.
These are all great and I personally practice and participate in all of them, but discovering how to meditate, choosing healthy relationships, determining your best foods or learning how to play a musical instrument takes some time to become effective.
One session on a treadmill, bike, elliptical trainer, functional training class, yoga class or a resistance workout will change your brain chemistry and perception of your “life situation” within minutes!
If you’re not already in an exercise program I recommend that you start off conservatively: 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular training four to six days per week. I strongly recommend resistance (weight lifting) training also.
After four to six weeks you can safely begin to increase your training intensity. Studies show that moderate to intense training will quickly increase your “fight or flight threshold” thanks to our body’s neuroplasticity (neurological adaptability).
With the new year just around the corner, and the holiday season about to end, now is a great time to get started on your exercise program. If you’d like to start or are currently in a training program, please schedule a wellness check up with your MD or a sports chiropractor — like myself — before beginning.
I will be starting a series of FREE body sculpting classes on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. beginning Jan. 5 at Fit Republic (upstairs in my SpineFit training center). Each week I will be giving you a series of exercises for each specific region of your body. All who attend will receive a free Spinal Fitness and Neurological Stress Evaluation compliments of me, Dr. Spindler.
Keep your eyes open for class postings at http://www.tahoedailytribune.com. Follow me on Facebook (adam.spindler.54) and follow me on Instgram (spine.fit).
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Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which your immune system attacks your own joints by mistake. It can start at any age, but the risk is highest in your 60s.