Vail health: Knocking out stress |

Vail health: Knocking out stress

Sheba R. Wheeler
The Denver Post
HL kickboxing 1 KA 05-06-10

When stress weighs you down, the tendency may be to overindulge in alcohol or comfort foods, veg out in front of the TV or hide out under the blankets.

An athletic person might even opt for a long run.

But fitness experts say there is a better bet for quicker stress-busting results: explosive interval training with periods of rest meshed in.

Extended workout sessions aren’t as effective at immediately managing pressure as targeted, intense bursts of activity which can improve your mood within minutes, fitness experts say.

Knowing that a 30-minute workout nets more positive results than an hour-long or more session should be good news, as lack of time is the No. 1 excuse people use for not doing the healthy things they know will help manage their stress, including exercising and eating well.

More than 50 percent of people said they were living with moderate and high levels of stress, with money (76 percent), work (70 percent) and the economy (65 percent) as the main causes, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2010 “Stress in America” study. More than 1,000 adults ages 18 and older participated in the annual online study, including 100 adults who were parents of children then ages 8 t0 17.

Nearly half of adults reported that job stability was a source of stress last year. The study also suggested a new connection between overweight children and stress.

“Even before the stress of tax time hit, people have been worried about getting laid off, being unemployed or having to change their lifestyle because they were forced to settle for a job that wasn’t paying them what they made in the past,” says Richard Ruiz, owner and trainer of STAC (Strength Training and Athletic Conditioning) Fitness center in Greenwood Village.

Ruiz teaches his clients how to “reprogram” their bodies so they can respond to stress. The key is using high-intensity bursts of activity and movement similar to boot camp training to rid the body of harmful hormones that flood it during a crisis.

When people argue with relatives, worry about job loss, get stuck in traffic or scramble to meet deadlines, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a steroid hormone that helps the body deal with the so-called fight-or-flight situations.

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