Cortisol or hydrocortisone is a naturally occurring stress hormone which is secreted by the adrenal gland. It is naturally produced during the fight and flight response to pumping up the extra energy to confront the situation. Under normal circumstances, the cortisol level fluctuates throughout the day as we are on the run through the day.
Since it is a hormone, it is circulated throughout the body by blood and affects all the organs of the body. Keeping aside the adrenal gland abnormalities where the cortisol level is very high (Cushing’s syndrome) and very low (Addison’s disease), the level should be appropriate for normal body functioning and well being. Irregularities in the cortisol level can affect the body’s metabolism and vital functions like blood pressure regulation. When cortisol is raised, the person may have weight gain, high blood pressure while a low level can lead to low blood pressure, weakness and weight loss.
Since most of the workout techniques involve a high level of stress and exertion, the cortisol level is pumped up. This is important to be regulated as high levels are harmful to the body. So, the choice of workout, how far you can push yourself or whether your body is ready to take up physical stress are some queries that should be considered.
So how can I be conscious about my workouts and also be quite vigilant about my cortisol level?
- Doing high-intensity workouts for long hours, not paying attention to the pain and injury to the body is no good to the body at all. Long hours of high cortisol level might slow down the body’s metabolism. High intensity workouts should normally be done for 30 -40 mins in a day. Going for low-intensity workouts like walking, swimming, yoga, skating, cycling are better options. Low intense training like resistance bands, gliders are also better choices. Following such workouts are more useful and restorative for the body and the cortisol level is also quite maintained.
2.Listening to the body’s need is important. Whether your body can perform a certain exercise is important. If you do have any injury, pain, skip the day with another form of physical activity. Scheduling the week with different forms of workouts and physical activity is wise and beneficial. Mix matching with Yoga, stretching, gliders and rest of the days with other forms like walking, swimming, cycling, aerobics are wise.
3.Help your body’s natural healing capacity. To maintain the cortisol level, prevent it from rising, some days rest your body, go for messages, physical therapy and other forms of relaxation techniques. Go for relaxation yoga poses like Balasana (child pose), Matsyendrasana (reclining fish pose) or savasana (corpse pose). Meditation with relaxing music is healing too. All these practises are restorative and bring out overall wellness.