Best Exercises to Reduce Cortisol Levels

Troubled by elevated cortisol level? Want to manage the problem naturally? Read the following article to know about the best exercises to reduce cortisol levels.

People suffering from excess stress and high cortisol levels, often tend to think that they need a break from their activities and even physical training. However, completely avoiding exercises is not a solution for their problem. It can do more harm than good. In fact exercises are known to boost stress relieving hormones that can specially help to reduce cortisol. Here we look at some of the best exercises to reduce cortisol levels.

Best Exercises to Reduce Cortisol Levels

High cortisol levels can have many negative effects on the body. There is a need to reduce cortisol levels to prevent and manage several health problems.

  • Increased cortisol levels can lead to reduced muscle mass and cause loss of strength and muscle.
  • Elevated cortisol level also impairs the insulin sensitivity and thus decreases the body’s ability to burn fat.
  • Sleep troubles, hormonal imbalance and anxiety are also caused due to high cortisol level.

All these problems can be worsened by quitting exercising. In fact, exercise benefits hormone levels because even though it temporarily raises adrenaline and cortisol production, it generally brings the cortisol level back to normal, later. Hence, it is very important that the individual with this hormonal problem exercises regularly, and adapts their training regime when aiming to overcome high cortisol.

Some of the best exercises to reduce cortisol levels are:

Strength Training Exercise

Strength training exercise is one of the best exercises to reduce cortisol levels. It is very important to lift weights when having high cortisol levels since lifting heavy loads helps to maintain muscle and strength. The intensity of training does not impact the cortisol release much, compared to the volume. Hence, a person can lower their volume of training and lengthen their periods of rest. For instance, a person who may have performed 4 to 5 sets of an exercise can reduce the volume to 2 to 3 sets. As the cortisol level begins to balance, they can again work up to a higher volume. However, the entire process is time taking and, progressing gradually gives the body time to heal and recover. Working out for 45 to 60 minutes for 4 days a week can lead to complete muscle recovery and also get the person into the habit of exercising.

Conditioning Exercise

People having high cortisol level should engage in conditioning or aerobic workouts to balance their stress hormone. Aerobic conditioning exercises are some of the best exercises to reduce cortisol levels. Cycling is a conditioning workout which helps the body handle stress better and also works the autonomic nervous system which controls the body’s stress and relaxation responses. By cycling for 20 minutes, then resting for a minute or two, and then cycling again, one can stay fit and keep their cortisol levels in check too. Swimming, running, brisk walking, jogging, and climbing stairs are some other kinds of aerobic exercises. Around 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity thrice a week can help to effectively reduce the cortisol level.

Mind-Body Exercise

Along with disturbed cortisol level in the body, stress also has the power to increase heart rate, breathing rate, pain, muscle tension, appetite, and sleep-related problems. Some of the best exercises to reduce cortisol levels also include mind-body exercises that help mind and body relaxation. Meditation, yoga, tai chi and deep breathing exercises are natural stress relievers which can help to strengthen the immunity, and restore the hormonal balance in the body. While meditation and yoga relax the mind and body, and improve focus and concentration, deep breathing exercises and tai chi help to relieve muscle tension and anxiety. Diaphragmatic breathing technique proves extremely useful for reducing stress.

Things to Remember

In cases when people suffer from stress due to prolonged stress, illness, injuries or are in the recovery period, it is necessary to seek medical opinion, before moving on to exercises. However, even in such cases, there are some specific therapeutic exercises that can help to speed up recovery. This can be simple walking, walking in the pool or aqua exercises, swimming, cycling, breathing exercises and meditation. These too are the best exercises to reduce cortisol levels during recovery. These can be planned with medical guidance based on the severity of the condition and must be performed under supervision of experts. So, whenever there is a rise in stress hormones, the individual should be able to reduce their cortisol levels more easily with regular physical activity, proper diet and a healthy lifestyle.

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