No matter how awesome your life is, the fact that you are human means you are bound to suffer nervousness, anxiety, panic, and other components of stress every now and then. When not managed well, profound stress can have detrimental effects on different aspects of your life. For athletes and workout enthusiasts, heightened levels of stress can reduce your athletic performance, on top of ruining your overall health.
Note that everyone has their own tolerance capacity, so there isn’t a standard amount of stress that a person can handle or a specified magnitude to which stress can affect your athletic performance. The good thing is that although stress can derail your fitness journey, there are exercises that you can engage in to reduce its impact. Cycling is one of such exercises. When you are cycling up a peaceful hill in the woods, or when you are cycling through a tranquil neighbourhood, your head clears and you are able to forget the stressful events that are happening in your life. Also, being exposed to natural light as you ride around town, plus the feeling of cool breezes brushing through your face is an effective way of ridding your mind off stressful thoughts.
If you love to ride but your knees hurt when you pedal, you can convert your bike into an e-bike using an electric bike conversion kit. Electric bike kits allow you to turn any bicycle into an electric bicycle so you can continue to enjoy the full benefits of cycling without hurting your knees.
Good vs. Bad Stress
Not all stress is bad for your athletic performance. Good stress can motivate you to keep working hard and pushing your limits. Unless the stress levels get out of hand, it can help you focus and perform optimally when exercising. In fact, all successful athletes experience a moment of anxiety and tension when preparing for major sporting events, but instead of allowing that stress to dim their spirits, they convert it to heightened concentration and increased confidence. That is good stress
Bad stress, on the other hand, is a form of stress that:
1. Throws You Off Balance
Exercising might not be a priority when you are facing deadlines, when your career is on the line, or when you are in the middle of a family or personal crisis. Too much pressure is detrimental to your physical activity because it forces your body to crave a sedentary lifestyle. You feel like you need to take a break from your own life, from your daily routine, just to think things through. That is why you are more likely to spend more hours watching TV or idling on the couch when stressed than you do when not stressed. Unfortunately, being sedentary doesn’t clear your mind or help you think. It just keeps throwing you off balance.
2. Slow Down Your Fitness Goals
Your muscles, heart, and lungs are used to your fitness routine by now, so exercising comes naturally to you. Your body is always ready to meet your exercise goals; it craves for fitness. Your mind is clear in terms of where you want to go with your routine. However, when stress strikes, your mind starts to focus on the negatives. You start feeling like your body has failed you, so you feel justified to neglect it altogether.
3. Slow Your Recovery Process
It’s normal to feel sore after an intense workout session, but the soreness should heal after a few hours. However, when you are stressed, it may take longer for your soreness to go away and that increases your risk of injury. Stress goes to the extent of dipping your energy levels and making you excessively tired when you work out. The extreme mental demands that come with anxiety drains all your energy, robbing your body the one resource it desperately needs to recover from physical stress.
4. Causes Unwanted Weight Gain
Stress causes many people to gain weight even when they are working out. The more the weight you gain, the lesser likely you will be to hit your fitness goal.
How to Prevent Stress From Affecting Your Exercise Performance
1. Slow Down
Combine your exercise routine with stress management techniques to help you relieve stress.
Try breathing techniques in between your workout session. Take some minutes to walk in between your morning run and exercise meditation while at it. To help you meditate, pay close attention to your breathing, or the surroundings. That way, you will manage to drift your mind from the stress.
Pay attention to your body to assess your energy levels. If you don’t have the energy to do a full flexed workout session, try milder exercises such as walking, swimming or yoga. Such exercises are good at calming and relaxing your mind. You can also consider cutting short a workout session or backing off for a day or two to get yourself back up again.
2. Do Not Set New Goals
A stressful period in your life is definitely not the best time to start a new routine or set new fitness goals. Try to schedule for such when your life is less stressful. That way, you will be able to focus both physical and mental strength to your exercises.
3. Adopt Healthy Habits
Ensure that you are taking a balanced diet and staying hydrated at all times. Avoid junk foods as much as you can. It also helps to adopt healthy sleeping habits. Ensure you are getting enough sleep so you are well rested for the following day.
4. Pick Up A Hobby
Create time for yourself to do the things that you love. Work on your hobbies and interests or even learn something new. This would mean declining some social events, but it will go a long way in making you happier and healthier.
Small amounts of stress may help your athletic performance, but you shouldn’t go looking for it because mild stress can easily escalate to heightened and/or chronic stress, which is pretty hard to manage. If stress is affecting your mental health and athletic performance, it is best that you start paying attention to the things that trigger stress in your life and find a way of avoiding them. Develop coping skills that you can apply when fighting stress in performance settings.