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Stress and Running

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You may have already heard of popular stories of casual runners or even marathon joiners who declared that running reduce their stress levels, prompting you to give running a try, too.

Yes, running as well as other forms of physical workouts and exercises can be excellent stress relievers. It can clear your mind. However, do you know that it is possible for you to acquire physical and mental stress too because of running?

No, this should not discourage you from doing your usual runs. As mentioned above, running is an excellent means of relieving stress; but this is true for some cases and not all.

Physical exercises such as running let your body release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that reduce or minimize stress and pain. In addition to your body releasing endorphins while running, you can also clear your mind. Many runners claim that running helps them form a good decision about work, or even better assess a situation regarding their relationships.

Running also serves as a great distraction from the stress and anxiety brought by a busy day. Because your attention may be focused on other factors while running, such as your speed or rhythm, you may subconsciously forget the worries of the day.

You can also get a good night’s sleep if you’ve had an enjoyable run. While stress and anxiety can make you stay up all night.

However, if you’re experiencing extreme stress, you may want to skip running and re-schedule it for some other time. If your body and mind have been under a lot of mental and physical pressure and you force it to exert even more effort by running, your body will produce Cortisol. Cortisol is an important hormone also known as stress hormone. These hormones are released when a person undergoes a significant amount of stress. Having high amounts of Cortisol can affect a person’s memory as well as fat metabolism. Maintaining high levels of Cortisol for a long period of time can lead to depression.

Therefore, whether or not running can add to your stress or get rid of it is dependent on your current stress levels before you run. If you just have normal, day-to-day stress levels from work, you can use running to your advantage and reduce stress. On the other hand, if you’re extremely stressed out, choose to chill or mellow out for a few days, get enough sleep and rest and just resume running once you are certain your body and mind will be able to handle it.

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Precautionary Measures You Should Take When Running In High Temperatures

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Running or any physically taxing places stress on the body. When you further add hot weather this places even more stress on the body and makes it even harder for it to operate as it should.

The body will take steps to cool itself down and maintain its ideal temperature. The body does this by sending extra blood to circulate closer to the skin thus allowing more heat to be dispersed. This means that there is now less blood being passed through the muscles which will lead to an increased heart rate. These measures taken by the body leaves it at a higher risk of heat illness.

Of course the best way to avoid this is not to run when it’s too hot but here are some signs you should look out for:

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps most commonly occur in the calves, quads and abs. They are painful muscle contractions.

Heat Exhaustion

Your body temperature can reach temperatures as high as 104 degrees when you are suffering from heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include weakness, clammy skin, nausea, headaches, vomiting, fainting and dizzy spells.

Heat Stroke

Your body temperature can reach temperatures in excess of 104 degrees when you are suffering from heat strokes. Symptoms include your body being hot to touch despite their being a lack of perspiration. It is critical that heat stroke is treated, if it isn’t it can lead to brain damage and in extreme cases death.

The best way to combat these potential effects is to be prepared and to avoid them in the first place. Here are our tips on staying safe when running in hot weather.

Be Prepared For the Running Conditions

You should find out what the temperature is so that you can adjust your workout if need be. You can do this by reducing the volume or changing the route of your run so that you can run in the shade .Alternatively you can change the schedule of your run so that you run in the early morning or evening when it is cooler. It is certainly not advisable to run in the early afternoon which is the hottest part of the day. Don’t be afraid of cancelling a workout session if it does get too hot, safety should always come first.

Stay Hydrated As Much As Possible

Running in hot weather increases the risk of dehydration. If you become dehydrated this will increase the risk of heat illnesses. Consider using a sports drink instead of just water so that you can also replace electrolytes that are lost in sweat. A sports drinks also contains things such as potassium, chloride and sodium.

Dress Appropriately For Hot Weather

Don’t wear dark colours and try to wear a cap that can shield you from the sun. Stick with light colours and breathable materials.

Take It Slow

As mentioned before safety comes first so don’t be afraid of cancelling a workout session. You can even consider taking your session indoors and running on a treadmill. It’s certainly not ideal but it will be much more comfortable running in an air conditioned gym than in a “desert”.

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Should You Still Run If You Have A Hangover

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We have all been there, heading down to the pub after works for happy hour in order to have a drink or two and unwind. Before you know it you have had a few too many and you are waking up the next day dehydrated and a killer headache. Should you still head out for your run or should you stay indoors and take some painkiller tablets?

According to Dr. Robert Ziltzer, you should go ahead with your run and there is no reason not to.

You can’t expect to be at your physical peak so don’t expect to be running any PRs, the effects of alcohol will still be in your system and it will slow you down. It has been shown the consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in one night can affect your body and mind for up to three days afterwards. This is going to depend quite a bit on your own individual tolerances but you get the idea.

Other studies have shown that consuming large amounts of alcohol has the ability to reduce your performance by up to 11.4%.

A solid running session where you sweat could be the best thing for getting over that hangover. Having the blood pumping through your system could help remove the toxins from your body faster. Before you do so it is important to make sure that you are sufficiently hydrated. If you attempt to run before you have sufficiently replenished your electrolytes which are sapped by alcohol could just end up making you feel even worse than before.

A great alternative to water in this situation is a sports drink or coconut water. They are both excellent ways to replenish lost electrolytes. Make sure your urine is clear or a light yellow color before starting your run. This will ensure you are adequately hydrated.

Getting in a solid breakfast can do a whole world of good and can make you feel a lot better. You can try some fruit, oatmeal and other healthy type foods to provide long lasting energy. It may not be advisable to drink coffee due to caffeine’s dehydrating effects. Whilst a fry up does taste good it doesn’t cure your hangover so if you eat one do so because you want to and not because of a myth.

Whilst we have already established it’s ok to go for a run it doesn’t mean it’s the right time to be pushing yourself hard. We already know that we are not in the best of shape and our performance will suffer so trying to push yourself harder may make your hangover even worse. This is a time for an easier, slower paced run. If you did have a hard paced run planned originally you are just going to have to reschedule it for next time.