Why Top Execs Are Turning To Weight Training To Manage Stress

Why top executives are turning to weight training to manage stress

While a degree of stress can be beneficial, if cortisol is elevated long term it can lead to burnout. Here's how weight training can help

WHILE HIGHLY STRESSFUL C-suite roles and business ownership can leave many fantasising of a life devoid of stress, it’s interesting to know that as humans we need a certain amount of pressure to thrive.

It’s about levels and management. Where ‘good’ stress can in fact energise, invigorate and prolong life, the heightened levels too many suffer in their day-to-day can shorten life expectancy.

Ultimately, it’s a highly delicate balance. Too much without an outlet can manifest in physical symptoms – headaches, sleep issues and dull pain from muscular tension are early warning signs a body is breaking under stress.

But beyond quitting a given job – and waving farewell to those annual Euro summer holidays, what can you do?

Well, you can start by manage stress through exercise. Specifically, let’s look at the science to see how lifting weights directly aids in regulating stress in the body.

Endorphin release. Lifting weights intensely releases neurochemicals in our body called ‘endorphins’, aka, the ‘feel good’ hormones. The euphoric sensation that washes over you after a hard workout is your body rewarding you with chemicals that relieve stress. It’s why regular exercise can become so addictive.

Reduction in cortisol. This is a hormone our body needs, but only in small doses. Chronic stress keeps cortisol elevated, resulting in poor physical health outcomes. Lifting weights initially spikes cortisol but over time can help modulate your stress response, preventing it from becoming chronically elevated.

Deeper sleep. Hard exercise helps to increase ‘sleep pressure’ and ‘sleep demand’. In other words, the harder we train the better we sleep. And sleep is one the most critical components in managing stress.

Distraction. Rumination is one of the hallmarks of anxiety. It can sometimes seem impossible to shake the repetitive thoughts of the deal you just lost, the unhappy client or the manager you need to let go. Exercise can provide the necessary interruption, quelling such thoughts and distracting your brain from overthinking and fixating – providing essential time to de-stress.

Increased immunity. The data tells us chronically stressed individuals get sick more often. By intensely lifting weights (in manageable doses) we improve our body’s ability to tolerate stress. The downstream effect of this over time is a stronger immune system – cue fewer sick days and greater productivity.

These five reasons are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the positive health benefits associated with lifting weights. Improved body composition, higher testosterone levels and increased confidence also have a net benefit on our wellbeing and stress tolerance.

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By Lachlan Rowston

Co-founder & director Lockeroom gym and host of Mind Muscle Project. Rowston opened his first gym at the age of 21. Cut to now, ten years on, and he’s not only launched a string of peerless Lockeroom gyms but co-hosts Australia’s number one fitness podcast, The Mind Muscle Project. Lockeroom – a unique, all-in-one health and fitness solution – sees Rowston and his teams work exclusively with business founders, entrepreneurs and industry leaders to optimise their physical and mental potential through effective training, nutrition and sleep protocols.

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