Cortisol is a stress hormone that also acts as one of the major regulators of blood sugar. It helps break down stored macro nutrients for energy (so as you can see it has its place and is an important part of our metabolism). In addition, it temporarily supresses the immune system as well as rebuilds bone and connective tissue. It also affects our electrolyte balance, increasing sodium retention and increase potassium and water excretion.
Cortisol levels can be affected by the intensity of our exercise. High intensity exercise raises cortisol during and afterwards. Low intensity exercise such as gentle walking, yoga and stretching can lower cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol levels due to lots of high intensity training, constant caloric restriction or huge calorie deficits, lack of sleep and poor recovery protocols will eventually lead to our bodies stopping recovering and the signal to break down stored fuel for energy will keep our blood sugar constantly high.
Chronic external stress can also disrupt cortisol levels, e.g. Work, family relationship etc. The good news: Low or steady state exercises such as yoga, walking, Revive Classes, meditation and practicing mindfulness can all help lower cortisol levels. Our aim at Vision is to balance low to moderate, high intensity exercise, good sleep hygiene, good recovery practices and optimal nutrition practices to enable this balance. This will allow us to have healthy stress that stimulates rest and repair without overwhelming our ability to train.
So, if you are noticing any signs of ongoing fatigue, stress, inability to sleep, low energy levels, bloating, swelling, lack of weight loss even though you are doing hours and hours of training, it might be a good idea to get in contact with a qualified Vision Personal Training team member to help. We can assess and help you put some of these healthy lifestyle practices in place.*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.