This is probably an article for my female members as it’s a brief chat about hormones and how movement can really help. Although, as a male, you may score browny points if you know more than your female friends/colleagues etc!
Our energy, immunity, cardiovascular health and overall metabolism are governed by our gorgeous hormones. These chemical messengers are super smart and capable when we are in balance.
We have an inbuilt feedback loop that regulates our stress response and in turn our hormones. This means that your Hypothalamus (in the brain) and Pituitary gland react to changing levels in your body and either stimulate or stop hormone production & distribution. Changes in your nervous system, blood and other hormones can affect their flexibility to the environment.
Sadly due to fast paced living, disturbed sleep, poor nutrition and synthetic chemicals (contraception) these clever little guys struggle to perform and can even shut down.
Chronic stress scrambles natural human cycles; circadian rhythms (24hr sleep/wake cycle), melatonin (sleep hormone), cortisol response & reproduction. The importance of these cycles cannot be underestimated. I will do a post on these soon
Within seconds of encountering stress, your brain responds (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis - HPA) by stimulating reactions to encourage you to run from the tiger BUT there is no tiger! There hasn’t been ‘a tiger’ (the need to truly survive on a daily basis) for a long time but the body cannot tell the difference between perceived threats and real ones. By perceived I mean, worry, anxiety, overthinking etc.
So lets imagine you have had a stressful situation, perceived or real, below is the healthy response and what happens if you experience long term stress:
|Healthy Response||Long Term Damage|
|Raised Blood pressure in the short term helps transport more blood to the brain||Chronic high blood pressure increases the risk of many diseases, such as heart disease and stroke|
|Hormone disruption - The body’s resources are directed at making the stress hormone cortisol to help deal with the immediate threat, at the expense of the production of the steroid hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone||Long-term diversions of resources to make cortisol will lead to hormonal imbalances and contribute to a wide variety of hormonal issue such as lack of libido and menopausal symptoms
|Sugar in your Blood - Increased Insulin Resistance in the short term means that your body won’t store any sugar in your liver and muscles cells. It will result in more sugar staying in your bloodstream, which means that more will be available for the brain||Long-term insulin resistance contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes, obesity. High BP and the production of harmful types of cholesterol|
|Emotional brain being on high alert to look out for threats is a very good thing if you are in danger||If this becomes long term, it will make you more prone to anxiety, as you start to worry about everything and see danger when no danger is present|
|Digestion halts - The body’s resources are directed away from digestion, as this is a non-essential function for survival at the moment||If attention is diverted away from digestion for too long, digestive complaints will result, such as constipation, bloating, indigestion and IBS
*This is an extract taken from https://drchatterjee.com/the-stress-solution/
We now have an elevated HR & BP, a disabled immune & digestive system, glucose (sugar) drawn from our muscles now ready to be potentially stored as fat if we do not move and a brain flooded with adrenaline that causes light headiness, dizziness, headaches etc.
Most importantly, with our modern lifestyle habits, this awful cycle can easily get stuck on.
We MUST get out of survival mode
What we mustn’t do is add more load to an already overloaded system, so until balance is restored, your practice must look a little more like this:
Try these 3 poses at the beginning or end of your day to strengthen the off switch! It won’t happen overnight but the switch also did not get stuck on overnight. Gradually remind your body that everything is ok.
FULL BODY movement is the long term goal.
Developing a movement practice including, sitting, standing, gentle inversions and backbends will engage all the organs and glands that develop & distribute hormones. A regular varying practice, completed within your current abilities, 3 times a week will show you great hormonal rewards in the long run.