How Stress Can Sabotage Your Workout

Photo by Winnie Au.
Shape reports that, according to a new study in Psychoneuroendocrinology, those who are stressed are less likely to make smart decisions in competitive environments. 

Participants with high levels of cortisol (a hormone released as a result of stress) had lower confidence levels and were unlikely to make decisions that would give them advantages over other competitors. 

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Low confidence can affect your behavior in a work or social setting, but it can also influence how you act at the gym, says John F. Kennedy University's assistant professor of sport psychology, Sean Fitzpatrick, PhD. The main concern, he explained to Shape, is this: Low confidence can often lead to avoidance. So, people who are worried about feeling like a failure might steer clear of the gym entirely. “If you go to the gym and are intimidated by the weight room," says Dr. Fitzpatrick, "the only way to gain more confidence...is to actually lift the weights. A lack of confidence keeps many people from taking that first step, from pushing themselves, from trying something new.” 

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“Confidence isn't simply a belief that you'll be successful; it's a willingness to push yourself and know that even if it doesn't work out, you'll be okay,” Dr. Fitzpatrick adds. So, if you're feeling stressed and intimidated at your next workout, keep Dr. Fitzpatrick's wisdom in mind — and remember that exercise can help boost your mood and self-image. You got this!

Click through to Shape for more information on how stress affects your workout. (Shape)

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