Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stress and weight

Just found this today:

Is stress making you fat?

It is informative about the physiological and evolutionary mechanisms of stress and why it, perhaps as much as (or more than in some cases) poor diet and/or lack of exercise may be at the root of so many people being overweight.
"Ask the average man or woman off the street if he or she gets stressed out on a regular basis, and you’ll most likely hear an emphatic, "Yes!" So if we can’t eliminate stress, how can we combat the negative effects of the flight or fight response? One of the most obvious ways to combat fat and the ravages of stress is with exercise. Exercise represents a triple threat to body fat. First, exercise burns calories and utilises stored body fat as fuel. Second, working out increases the amount of lean muscle mass your body must provide with fuel on a 24-hour basis. More muscle means less fat...[and third] moderate to vigorous exercise, such as lifting weights, can offset the negative effects of cortisol and insulin... With as little as 10 minutes of strenuous exercise the brain begins to produce beta-endorphins that calm you and decrease levels of the stress hormone."
Very important though is to exercise in moderation (and get plenty of sleep!):
Don’t overdo it. Too much exercise can actually cause additional stress and associated symptoms. Be sure to get plenty of rest. Inadequate sleep increases cortisol levels and reduces leptin, a hormone that signals fullness.

So - I'm off for a nice meal, a relaxing bit of Buddhism reading, and then to the gym.

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