Stress & Aging
Don't let stress build up. The effects of stress on overall health and aging is staggering. Stress makes our body secrete the hormone cortisol, which causes us to store fat around our belly. This is part of our natural, hard-wired response to stress. The body thinks we’re in a life-threatening situation and that we might starve, so it wants to store extra energy. Stress is one of the reasons so many people gain weight around their midsection as they age, and it contributes to the belief that we inevitably gain weight as we get older. Weight gain also leads people to become less physically active, which increases their stress level and causes further weight gain.
Stress is one of the most common causes of insomnia, which many adults suffer from. Unfortunately, when we’re tired from not getting enough sleep, we become less physically active. Our sleep patterns become worse as a result, and our stress increases due to both lack of physical exercise and lack of sleep.
Stress increases muscle tension and triggers postural reflexes that lead to poor posture. Stress increases muscle tension, and muscle tension increases stress. Stress also triggers the action response and the withdrawal response, making us arch or round our back. Over time, these postures become habitual, causing a host of health problems and shortening our stature.
In addition, stress causes or worsens virtually all lifestyle-related conditions, including heart disease, obesity, cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, impotence, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Physical exercise is the most effective way to combat stress because it releases and balances out levels of many important hormones and neurotransmitters, including endorphins, which are responsible for “runner’s high.” Exercise also improves our ability to handle future stress because it actually raises the level at which our physiological stress response is triggered. For these reasons, exercise is now recognized as a crucial part of recovery from mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.
So if you tend to avoid exercise because you’re stressed or tired, you’re avoiding the thing that could help you the most. Don’t think of exercise as being indulgent or unnecessary; it is a critical part of reducing your stress and staying healthy as you age.
Yoga and meditation offer a plethora of physical, emotional and spiritual benefits, including, reducing stress with some simple tools.