No one usually stops to think about why you should destress before working out. In fact, I usually hear exercise helps reduce stress. I was surprised to find out there are quite a few reasons why you should destress before working out. You'll quickly discover how much better it makes your workout to take a few minutes to breathe and relax before hitting the gym.
1. Makes You Slower
The more you have on your mind while working out, the slower you move. This means you burn fewer calories and get less done. It's one of the more obvious reasons why you should destress before working out. If you can spare a little extra time for your workouts, this might not be a problem. If you're trying to improve performance, such as preparing for a race, this could be a major issue. Record your workout times when you're both stressed and relaxed and you'll see the difference.
2. Get Tired Faster
The more stressed you are, the more tired you feel. The same applies to your workout. It's hard to exercise when you feel exhausted. If you try to work out while you're stressed, you might find yourself shortening your workout, skipping exercises or avoiding your session altogether. Even if you're not physically tired, your mind is telling you it's too tired to manage much physical activity. Relax beforehand and it's like giving your mind a power nap.
3. Makes Workouts Harder
When you feel tired and sluggish, even the simplest tasks somehow seem more difficult. Your brain is trying to process all the stress. It doesn't have energy to spare for other tasks. As a result, you have to force yourself to think more about every single exercise and movement. Something as simple as jumping jacks could feel like trying to learn a foreign language if you're under too much stress.
4. Causes Unnecessary Injuries
The more stress you're under, the less focused you are. When you're exercising, you must focus on what you're doing. This is especially true if you're using equipment. If you don't pay attention, you could injure yourself. Imagine what would happen if you only half focused on how to use the equipment at the gym. One wrong move and you could easily get hurt. With a little relaxation beforehand, your only injury might be a few sore muscles.
5. Destroys Motivation
If you already have problems staying motivated to exercise, you'll find that stress doesn't help. In fact, it works against you and makes you feel like there's no point. It becomes too easy to just say “I'm too stressed” or “I'm too tired right now.” Think of stress as the anti-cheerleader. Erase it from the picture and it'll become easier to motivate yourself to workout more.
6. Makes You Stiffer
Stress doesn't just affect your mind. It also affects your muscles. The more stressed you are, the more tense your body is. This means you're far less flexible than you might usually be. Tight, stiff muscles mean you'll have a harder time with exercises that require flexibility such as yoga, stretching and Pilates. Plus, stiffer muscles are easier to injure and they're more likely to be sore the next day.
7. Causes over Workouts
When stress reaches the point where you get angry, you might actually work out too much. The adrenaline makes you forget your limits. While that may seem like a good thing, your body won't think so when you try to get up the next day. It's important to let the stress go and stick with your routine. There is such a thing as too much exercise and it's not good for you.
Exercise actually is great for helping to relieve stress, but too much stress might hinder your workout. If you feel unfocused and tense, take some time to relax a little first. You'll feel better and have a much more effective workout. Has stress ever hurt your workout?