In moderation, stress is good. However, as pressure increases, stress becomes counter-productive. And when we constantly get bombarded with stressful events without time to recover or recuperate, things can get ugly.
The stress response system helps us react quickly when faced with an immediate threat, a so-called acute stressor, for instance to avoid a car crash or finish a job with a deadline. Stress triggers the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis: the hypothalamus releases CRF, which makes the pituitary secrete ACTH, finally causing the secretion of cortisol from the adrenal cortex. Cortisol targets the central nervous system, the metabolic system, the immune system and the cardiovascular system, with the aim of releasing energy to allow us to deal with the stressor and not waste precious resources elsewhere. If the autonomic and endocrine stress systems don't get over-activated, we are able to deal with the stressor effectively and, once the perceived threat has passed, cortisol levels should return to normal, and other systems resume regular activities. So stress is a good thing, provided the stressor isn't too overwhelming: the activation of the fight or flight mode may have saved our ancestors many an attack by predators, and still works to our advantage for moderate acute stressors to people today.
However, the HPA-axis was not created for the continuous activation which is often experienced in a world of economic instability and political turmoil. Our prehistoric ancestors didn't have to worry about paying bills; they didn't experience high psychological demands at work or worries about even keeping their jobs. If continued psychological stress causes cortisol levels to remain high for excessive periods of time, this can take a toll on your body. If left untreated, excessive chronic stress can lead to problems with the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, the musculoskeletal system, and the reproductive system.
The good news is that by being informed of your hormone secretion patterns you can take necessary steps to reduce the negative impacts these may have on your health. Persometrics provides several tests depending on your health concerns and goals and gives individualized reports with advice depending on your results on these tests. DISCOVER NOW.
Whereas physical exercise has a positive impact on health and indeed is highly recommended for stress management, chronic stress from overtraining can manifest in adrenal insufficiency and what is known as Overtraining Syndrome. This is a type of burnout where there has been an imbalance between exercise and recovery over a long period of time. Because Overtraining Syndrome is so intricately tied to the adrenal glands, we strongly recommend for professional athletes to monitor recovery and performance by means of salivary hormone sampling. Adrenal insufficiency can be assessed by Free Cortisol from Saliva. Cortisol, often called the stress hormone, increases during excessive physical exercise. If your workout is too long or too intense, cortisol levels become so high that they may become detrimental to muscle growth.
On the opposite end, the hormone testosterone is one that high resistance athletes will want to keep high to aid in protein synthesis. The cortisol to testosterone ratio is therefore of importance to athletes, and it has been found that a change to this ratio precedes performance enhancement in athletes during tapering. In short, hormone testing not only provides a tool to maximise exercise intensity and avoid overtraining but also provides an index of athletic improvement.
If you already have a specific salivary hormone test in mind, we also offer home test kits for this. For instance, if you are a man and have decreased sex drive, difficulties conceiving a child, or experience erectile dysfunction, you may want to check for low testosterone, since this knowledge could guide you further in your research on interventions for improvement. Whilst Persometrics does not offer medical advice, the results of the home test kit give you an indication of your free “unbound” testosterone and this could be something to discuss further with your medical doctor.
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