Fit as a Fiddle but Sick as a Dog

Fit as a fiddle but feeling sick?
How Stress Could be Crippling Your Immune System

Over-training, moving house, or finishing up exams: there are a bunch of stressful life events that typically bring on a bout of sickness. But what if they don’t? What if you never get sick?

It seems like a contradiction, but individuals who don’t regularly experience sickness may actually be suffering from prolonged stress.

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”

– Hans Selye

Overcoming sicknesses is a vital process for your health. Every time you experience an ailment, your body’s immune system not only destroys the bug, but adapts from the encounter and prepares for the next crisis.

This process gets compromised when you’re suffering from long-term stress. Chronic stress can be detrimental to mental and physical health because of the way it affects your immune system. There are three main ways that stress has a negative effect on your immune system:

  1. It creates chronic inflammatory conditions
  2. It lowers your immunity to other illnesses
  3. It masks symptoms of disease

People who live in a constant state of stress are forever in fight or flight mode.

Over time this lowers your body’s response to vital stress regulation hormones like cortisol and can cause severe adrenal fatigue. When you’re in adrenal failure, you’ll experience everything from loss of appetite, to dizziness and a low sex drive. Adrenal failure makes a lot of things difficult, and makes training impossible.

To properly recover and return to your fitness program, learning to better manage stress, as well as seeking professional medical help is key.

Some simple lifestyle practices we encourage all our clients to do to keep stress to a minimum, include:

  • Meditation – Practicing mindfulness daily can help relax both your body and mind.
  • Deep Breathing – Stopping and taking a few deep breaths can take the pressure off you right away. Breathe into your belly, not your chest.
  • Eliminate Your Triggers – If you’re able to identify the triggers, see if you’re able to eliminate them from your life, or at least reduce them.

At OPEX Fitness we’re mindful that every client is unique; including, what they experience as stress and how they respond to it.

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2 Comments

  1. “It seems like a contradiction, but individuals who don’t regularly experience sickness may actually be suffering from prolonged stress.”

    Super interesting. I can’t remember the last time I was sick to the point where I got knocked completely on my ass for a few days. Definitely not within the last few years.

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