The everyday signs of stress are very common: insomnia, headaches and low energy to name a few. Another sign of stress and worry is the increase of body fat around the mid-section. A large percentage of people overeat when they are stressed and there is a reason why that extra weight targets the core region.
When people are faced with acute stress, the human body triggers a “fight or flight” response and responds by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. When cortisol is released into the system the body goes into survival mode. The body believes it needs to replenish its fat stores. Therefore people tend to crave unhealthy food options that are high in fat and sugar.
Interestingly cortisol also affects the distribution of fat and stores it centrally, targeting the vital organs. Hence the increased weight around the core region. This fat distribution is also known as “toxic fat” and is strongly linked to cardiovascular disease.
Medical and healthcare professionals agree that stress management is critical especially for those with elevated cortisol levels. Exercise plays a very important role in stress management, as it leads to the release of endorphins. These endorphins have natural stress-fighting properties that can lower cortisol levels.