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Health & Fitness

Stress: The Silent Killer

So why don’t many of us take it as seriously as we should?    

It’s not called “the Silent Killer” for nothing. Recent studies show that consistent stress can take up to 10 years off of your life and cause life-threatening disease, depression, and mental anguish in you and those you love. It’s your greatest enemy and your body and mind’s worst nightmare. 

Stress is more than just feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and frustrated. It’s the underlying cause for many of our complaints and problems in life. It’s become an accepted part of our daily modern life and we have learned to live with it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to reduce its negative effects. For some it can be a way to show ourselves and everyone else how active, motivated, and accomplished we are in life and how well we can juggle and balance all of our responsibilities while still maintaining our sanity.

The truth is, stress creates more stress… and that stress can literally kill you if you let it take control of your life and leave it unresolved inside of you to build and build — until one day it just explodes.

 

Stress Will Never Let You “Grow Old Gracefully”

Dr. Hans Selye, a master in the field of stress and endocrinology, says that “every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.” Even when you think you’re “in control” and “handling” it, look at what chronic stress is doing to you:

Affects Your Weight – The stress hormone cortisol not only causes abdominal fat to pile on, but it also enlarges individual fat cells, leading to what researchers call “diseased” fat. 

Affects Your Brain and Memories – stress can cause chronic migraines, headaches and shrinks the hippocampus, a part of the brain that stores and retrieves memories.

Affects Your Mood and Who You Are – stress hormones cause your cells to shrink and disconnect from each other. Mood swings, rage and depression, can lead you to look for unhealthy and harmful ways to cope with the pressure. 

Affects Your Children’s Lives – 91% of 8 to 17 year olds admitted they can tell when their parents are stressed out, and it made them feel sad, worried, and frustrated as a result.

Affects Your Love Life – Stress creates hormonal changes in the human body. 

Affects Your Sleep – Chronic stress makes it difficult for people to get a restful night’s sleep. 

Affect Your Ability to Work – 1 million Americans miss work due to stress-related issues and illnesses. 

Affects Your Heart, Stomach, Digestion, Blood sugar, and Immune System –  All of which leads to an increase risk of a fatal heart attack, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and reduces blood-brain barrier which allows toxins and chemicals into your system. 

 

If you suffer from stress, here are a few suggestions for relief from the Health & Fitness Department:

Exercise  Schedule a free consultation with me to review options available to you that consider your needs and abilities (703.537.3049). Regular exercise can help your brain better deal with stress. Even a short 20 minute walk would be beneficial.

Meditation  Simply doing light stretching, deep breathing, Yoga, or Tai Chi can help. The J offers Yoga, Tai Chi, and Stretching classes throughout the week.  

Take a Break  If a work project or the kids are stressing you out, take a break. Sometimes “stepping away” and doing something completely different can help break the rising tension.

Take Time to Go Outside – Change your surroundings. Have lunch outside. Take a conference call while taking a walk. Conduct your work in a shady spot. There's something magical that happens when we are outside that just doesn't happen under the glow of fluorescent lights.

Take deep breaths  This one is so simple, so effective, and can be performed anywhere at any time!

Plan a vacation –  Planning a vacation can give you a mental boost even if you can't afford to go on one; research shows that the happiness you get from actually going on a vacation wears off much faster than you think (about two weeks). Sit down and dream a little. Plan a trip — whether it's a month from now or two years from now — but start thinking about it.

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