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One of the best ways to reduce the negative effects of cortisol is strength training – but not in a way that you might think!

When we workout, the body senses that activity as a stress, which probably comes as no real surprise! During the workout, your muscles are straining to work, your heart rate is elevated, and your blood pressure is spiked – which, as we discussed last week, are prime conditions for the fight or flight response to kick in and cortisol to be released.

So if we are trying to reduce cortisol to allow our BMR to increase and build muscle and burn fat, why would we do something that actually increases our blood cortisol levels??

The answer lies in the fact that exercise, particularly strength training, acts as a kind of “cortisol immunization shot.” You see, with each bout of short but calculatedly intense and regular exercise event, you teach the body how to handle the stress of the work over time so that it learns to release fewer and fewer amounts of cortisol. Kind of like when you an immunization shot, you introduce a tiny amount of a virus so that the immune system can learn how to battle the virus when it is confronted with it again later in life!

The additional benefit of this regular and deliberate introduction of stress through the form of exercise is that it carries over into our everyday life too. This is because, since your workout has now taught your body how to handle stress, you are less triggered through the day where you otherwise might have been before. So you can handle all the stressors of life, with less harmful side-effects, allowing your BMR to stay high, making you more capable of building and burning!

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