THE IMPACT STRESS HAS ON ALL OF YOUR BODILY SYSTEMS

Mitch Ping, Adelaide Personal Trainer. Blog #2.

GENERAL ADAPTATION SYNDROME

The general adaptation syndrome is the fundamental principle to getting results in the gym. For example, if you want to build muscle you put a certain stress on the muscle to make it grow bigger. If the stress you put on the muscle is too big then you will stay in the exhaustion phase.

The alarm reaction is a big stress that’s being imposed on you. Each time you face the same alarm phase you come back a little more resistant.

Impose a stress you’re able to recover from. When you’re pushing too hard or the you can’t recover from the stress then you don’t get more resistant and you fall lower down your base resiliency.

This Graph shows the correlation of resistance to stress, with the alarm, resistance and exhaustion phase.

THE CARDIO VASCULAR SYSTEM:

The cardio vascular system consists of your blood, blood vessels, and heart.

When you go into this alarm phase, the arteries stiffen up and the heart rate increases to pump blood to the rest of your body, in order to get nutrients and oxygen to the working tissues.

If you imagine a floppy watering hose with little pressure coming out, it’s not very good at watering the garden. If you compare this to a really firm concrete like hose and crank the pressure, you will achieve a much greater result- being water coming out faster and firmer.

If your body is constantly running a fast pressure of blood through the arteries, it can cause a build-up of plaque in your arteries. This build-up of plaque starts blocking blood flow in our arteries. Eventually blood flow can’t get to our heart and we stroke out.

Atherosclerosis is a build-up of plaque in your arteries. It starts blocking blood flow in our arteries. Again, blood flow can’t get to our heart and we stroke out.

BIOMARKERS for your cardiovascular system-

  • Resting heart rate- Below 70 is good, optimal will be below 60
  • Blood pressure- 120/80-140/90- check this at random times during the day
  • Elevated cholesterol- this can be an indicator for sympathetic dominance.
  • Poor body temperature regulation- Cold fingers and toes. This is a poor ability to get blood to the periphery tissue. The body doesn’t want to send blood out because it wants to keep it for the brain.

We are worried about our brain so we can think our way out of survival

THE MUSCULAR SYSTEM

The muscular system creates movement by taking the food we eat and turning it into energy.

Our muscular system is a big energy store. Muscles store a lot of glycogen. When the body is working efficiently then the muscle is a little spoiled brat and doesn’t want to give up glycogen.

The muscles like to keep glycogen because if you have a stressor that you encounter you need immediate energy to liberate that fuel. If we don’t have the fuel available then it will put a big stress on the rest of our system, and that ends up being a big burden because we don’t have those energy reserves in our muscle.

When you don’t have enough glycogen in your muscle you fatigue very quickly.

METABOLIC SYSTEM

The body creates ATP (energy) by storing free fatty acids in our fat cells, storing glycogen (carbs) in our muscle, our brain, our liver. And we store protein in muscle. To free that energy up to use it, you can free up fatty acids to create ATP, release glycogen from our tissue and from protein break down some skeletal muscle if we need it.

When we encounter a short-term stress like a good training session, it can be a great thing for our body.

  1. Our body goes through the process of getting energy from ATP and glycogen
  2. We recover from the stress of this process
  3. Our body adapts for the next time this stress will occur.
  4. Our body becomes better at using/storing glycogen

Long term stress will inhibit the bodies ability to recover from this process and the body won’t be able to store more glycogen effectively and will lead to high blood glucose and insulin resistance.

From an ideal perspective, a very simple way to look at it is during training, your body releases out carbs and fat from stored energy to deal with the stress of training. In a bad situation when you’re chronically stressed, your body doesn’t want to release any energy. Your body is also not effectively storing energy in the muscle. In this chronically stressed state, your body knows it needs energy but this energy can’t be stored in the muscle… so the energy is stored as FAT.

The nutrients are stored as fat because your body is in an energy deficit and knows that fat is stored energy. The nutrients can’t go into the muscle cell because that door is shut. 

You have probably seen this before- a bigger person starts going to the gym and is killing themselves… but they end up getting bigger. It’s because their body is in a constant energy debt state.

Cardio work is a great solution to help make your bodies metabolic system more efficient at using these energy systems. Cardio 3x a week for 30 mins, all the way up to 90 minutes every day for 2-3 weeks. Long walks or hikes outdoors are also great. You do however want to avoid any cardiovascular burnout- overworking the legs or lungs creates too much stress.

The adaptations from cardio are enormous. It lowers stress hormones, improves blood flow, improves lymphatic flow, it reduces inflammation because its not damaging in any nature and improves oxygen supply. It does everything you need to get a better stress response.

THE GONADAL SYSTEM

The gonadal system consists of all your sex hormones, fertility and libido.

In a chronically stressed state, your body needs more stress hormones and doesn’t care about receiving the sex hormones that are made in the body. Imagine a bear is trying to kill you… your body doesn’t care about making babies if you’re about to be eaten alive. These sex hormones will keep circulating around the body and after a while of not being received they turn into cortisol.

Imagine your gonads (the things that receive sex hormones) are a hotel. At this hotel there is a doorman that opens the door for you. This doorman has to stand outside to open the door for you… and on some days if the weather is really bad… the doorman doesn’t like standing outside and opening the door. The bad weather in this situation represents stress. People from outside are trying to get into the hotel but they can’t get in! The longer they can’t get in, the more impatient they grow and they go down the road to hotel another hotel- being cortisol (stress).

The biomarkers to check for hormonal and gonadal system-

  • Do you have a libido?
  • Do you have sexual interests?
  • Blood test for low testosterone or low androgens
  • Fertility issues
  • Loss of period
  • Estrogen dominance

THE THYROID

The Thyroid makes hormones that help control many of the bodies metabolic processes. Known for your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. But it does a lot more than that, it is involved in digestion, grows your hair, skin and nails.

For thyroid its more than just building muscle and fat loss. Its rebuilding everything. If you’re really stressed out and then your thyroid can’t work efficiently. You may get issues with skin, dandruff, hair falling out, thinning of the eyebrows for girls, nails chipping all the time, issues with organ health.

Your body may stop producing thyroid hormones because it doesn’t care about cell turn over. Creating hair skin and nails is a costly process and creates more stress. Your body wants to slow that down because when its in a stressful environment it can’t deal with that added stress and your bodies focus is just living.

Your body doesn’t care if you have good looking hair or not, it just wants you to live.

The body is all about survival- economy vs efficiency

BIOMARKERS for your thyroid

  • Get blood work done of TSH t4 t3 reverse t3 and thyroid binding globulin
  • Body temperature- if body temp is low then it could be hypothyroidism, if its high then possibly hyperthyroidism
  • Skin dryness, flakiness, brittle nails, dandruff, thinning of the eyebrows
  • Transit time- are you pooping every day?
  • Do you constantly feel fatigued regardless of sleep?

In conclusion,

Your brain loves you but your brain hates you as well

Your brain loves you because it wants to protect you, wants you to deal with that stressor and give you more stress hormones to deal with it.

Your brain hates you because in response to dealing with that stress it’s shutting off your sex hormones, down regulating your thyroid, your immune hormones and giving you a lot of issues.

This comes back to the general adaptations syndrome and being in the exhaustion phase for too long. When you’re dealing with a stressor and your body runs out of resources to deal with that stressor, you stay in a state of producing stress hormones for too long. This means you’re also in a state of not producing sex hormones, a state of not being in a para sympathetic state, which means you’re not digesting food properly. You’ve been depleting energy so long that now your insulin resistant. Stressed so long now you have high BP and elevated HR. This means a big storm for metabolic shut down.

In conclusion, spend more time healing and recovering. Meditate!

Thanks for reading!

PS I have another stress article here: The Nervous System and Stress

Ask me any questions at mitchelljping@outlook.com on email, follow me on instagram @mitchping or reach me on facebook/fitmitchping

Mitch Ping is an Adelaide personal trainer, working out of Goodlife Marion. Amongst all the Adelaide Fitness Trainers, he specialises in strength but takes a particular keen interest in the areas that support an active lifestyle. He is available as a personal trainer in terms of boxing, nutrition, strength and lifestyle. Online personal trainer program coming soon.

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