One key to a happy life is having the health and vitality to participate in your favorite activities. That looks different for everyone – but whether you spend your free time running marathons or pushing grandchildren on the swings, you want to be able to give it your all.
Being your best includes eating well, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight. However, when life gets challenging and your normal routine is disrupted, you might notice the numbers on the scale creeping into the unhealthy zone.
So what’s the secret to maintaining a healthy weight no matter what life throws at you? To start, it helps to consider the role stress plays in determining your health and well being.
HOW STRESS CAN NEGATIVELY AFFECT US
Losing weight is difficult under the best of circumstances, but it’s even harder when you’re stressed. Why? Let’s take a look at the reasons.
The hormone cortisol translates environmental signals into physical responses. Faced with a threat, this hormone helps body and mind to make the fight or flight decision. While this alarm system was incredibly beneficial to our ancestors, their stress was intermittent and often life threatening (for example, being chased by a Saber Tooth Tiger).
Today’s career and family pressures trigger stress almost constantly – and even though there is no fight or flight required, your body doesn’t know the difference and releases cortisol as a response.
Why cortisol-triggering stress may lead to weight gain.
- People have learned that fatty, salty foods are a shortcut to calming stress. Many self-medicate with unhealthy food choices.
- Cortisol can block the muscle-building hormone testosterone. Muscle burns calories more efficiently. Less muscle means fewer calories burned and more fat accrued.
- Cortisol signals the body to store fat, particularly deep abdominal fat. (Deep abdominal fat has greater blood flow and four times more cortisol receptors compared to other fat stores.)
HOT TUBBING CAN HELP YOU RECOVER AFTER A STRESSFUL DAY
Reducing stress could lead you to eat better, take the time to exercise, and interact with friends more often. As part of your stress management plan, we suggest you take advantage of a wellness tool that’s always just steps away, ready and waiting. Your backyard hot tub.
A Highlife Sovereign® spa owner says, “My husband and I look forward to our relaxing, quality time together in the spa about 5 nights a week! Hydrotherapy is a wonderful thing!”
These owners are experiencing the body’s physiological changes that come with immersion in warm water. The raised temperature dilates blood vessels, and blood flows more easily. The heat and additional buoyancy lets the heart beat with increased power and steadiness. Improved circulation delivers oxygen rich blood to more parts of the body. And, when the heart pumps blood more easily, breathing slows. Controlling breath, a central aspect of meditation and mindfulness, has a calming effect. Deep, regular breathing reduces cortisol secretion.
THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE
University of Utah cognitive behaviorist Dr. David Strayer believes that time in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command center, to dial down and rest. He found that as the brain enters a more relaxed state, production of cortisol decreases.
Our bodies can relax in natural surroundings.
The hot tub can transport you to a place under the stars, experiencing your natural surroundings.
One hot tub user found that “It is a fabulous relaxing experience to be in the spa at night looking up at the stars as the snow comes down around us.” Another relates, “We can gaze down on the trees below or up at the stars and it’s always a heavenly experience.”
The hot tub gets owners outside in full view of the majesty of nature. Who knows what you’ll see from your hot tub: shooting stars, a swooping owl. Even staring at backyard flowers for a few minutes can spark a sense of wonder that makes life rich.
EXPLORE THE STRESS AND WEIGHT CONNECTION
For years, this nation has asked, “What’s behind America’s obesity epidemic?” Sedentary lifestyles, processed foods, red meat, alcohol, and sugary drinks may all play a role, but many researchers now conclude that stress may be the primary underlying cause of obesity.
You can’t escape from stress entirely, but a daily ritual of hot tub time can help your mind and body recover from the pressure of the day and as a result, provide weight loss benefits.