Story by Meredith Nelson / December 8, 2016

Skipping the Gym Because You’re Stressed?

NOT a good idea!


Here I sit.  All alone in the gym.  It’s a Wednesday, usually one of the busier days of the week.  But today?  The only ones who made an appearance, save a few diligent souls that I can count on one hand, are those who actually scheduled a workout with a trainer.  The usual folks who workout on their own – with no appointment, no one waiting for them to show up, no reservation for a Group Workout?  Nope – they aren’t here.


It just so happens that today is also the day following the 2016 Presidential elections.  Perhaps there were a few voter return parties that kept you up too late, or maybe you are at home contemplating the fate of our country during the next four years.  Either way, I do believe that this Election Day had an unusual effect on many people’s workout routine on November 9, and may have prevented you from getting in your daily dose of fitness as well.  Whether it’s because your candidate didn’t win and you are worried about the fate of the grand ol’ US of A, or perhaps the presidential election didn’t cause you to worry nearly as much as who is representing us in Washington, or maybe you just tuned out of the political atmosphere altogether and the thought of spending the next six weeks listening to Christmas music is what stresses you out the most . . . regardless of the reason, the next few weeks will be trying ones for many of us.  Well, guess what – now is NOT the time to neglect your workouts!


My dear fitness enthusiasts, I hate to tell you, but recent research shows that skipping your workout because you are stressed is NOT a good idea!  According to a recent study, feeling overwhelmed doesn’t just affect your mental state—it stresses out your body too, increasing your blood pressure, blood sugar, and possibly even your cholesterol. Working out actually helps boost your mood and lessens these cardiovascular risks. So even though most of us workout less when our brains are fried, those are actually the times we most need to get some exercise!


Bottom line?  I’ll spare you the research jargon.  Higher LDL (the bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, and total metabolic risk factors (high blood sugar, blood pressure, etc) were found in study participants with high stress scores.  Better cardio-respiratory fitness may provide some protection against these effects of high chronic stress.


So – even though most of us seem to workout less when we’re feeling overwhelmed, those are the very times we need to hit the gym the most!