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Use stress to improve your health

It sounds counterintuitive, but stress in small, controlled doses is something that can work in your favor.

You may have heard of the word hormesis. It’s gaining popularity in health circles.

To simplify it, hormesis is when you take a process or substance that is typically harmful when exposed to the body in large amounts, and conservatively apply the process in small doses to create resiliency or a counter-effect.

A good example of this is something like the flu vaccine. There is a small amount of the flu that is being injected into your bloodstream. As you already know, this helps your body familiarize itself and create antibodies in order to bolster immunity. One other good example is the use of radiation in the medical field. Obviously too much is detrimental, but radiation is also a useful tool for treating cancer when the dose is controlled.

We can take this same concept and apply negative stressors to the body to actually improve health, longevity and performance.

Below are 4 ways to start practicing hormesis… (Also, keep in mind, if these things are not adequately dosed they can be dangerous and detrimental to your health, so make sure to consult your physician before you embark on these)

1. Exercise

In particular – HIIT exercise, or High Intensity Interval Training, which is a type of training characterized by intense bouts of effort for a short duration, and subsequently followed by a rest period.

2. Oxygen deprivation

There are a few different methods you can practice here, but one that has become more popular is the Wim Hof method. It’s important to note, that you’re not trying to suffocate yourself. You’re trying to create just enough oxygen deprivation that it triggers your brain to create mitochondria (which is the powerhouse of the cell, if you forgot from science class). In short, this is a neat bio-hack that can provide energy and a nervous system shift.

3. Cold/Heat exposure

Exposing yourself to high heat (like the sauna) or very cold temperatures like ice baths or cryotherapy can active shock proteins which help cells become more resistant to stress, injuries or disease.

4. Fasting

Intermittent fasting, which has been shown to increase proteins and speed up cellular growth can support improved cognitive function, weight loss, and even increased longevity.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Maybe this old saying is more true than we thought!