Hit The Deck: An antidote to stress

Let’s make this simple: The best exercise plan is the one you actually do. You can spend months (probably years) researching evidenced-based exercises plans, but all the science in the world isn’t going to change one important fact — for the plan to be effective you have to actually do it. And do it consistently. Finding what works best for you is the key and for many of us, what works best is something simple, quick and without a lot of frills.

I thought of this as I worked out with the program Hit the Deck! Designed by Jenny Evans of Powerhouse Performance Coaching, the workout grew out of a combination of her background as a fitness instructor and her current position as a speaker on building resilience and fighting stress. And the beauty of it is that it’s painfully simple.  “I’m a big believer that all you really need to workout is your body,” Evans said. “If you’ve got it with you and gravity is turned on, you’re good to go!”

Here is my review of Hit the Deck! Following the video is a Q&A with Jenny Evans. Most importantly, it’s giveaway time! While Hit the Deck gives you a quality cardiovascular and resistance workout regardless of your current fitness level, the real genius is in the way it helps us handle stress. So here’s the deal: In the comment section describe what causes you the most stress and how you try to deal with it. A winner chosen at random will win their own Hit the Deck! workout cards. Entries open until Friday, Dec. 9!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYCqAsiFCFM

Q&A with Jenny Evans:

What’s your philosophy behind Hit the Deck!

As an interval training workout that burns more fat and calories, it’s also a more efficient way of working out in that you’re doing your cardiovascular AND resistance training at the same time.  And you can do it any time, any where, with no fitness equipment.  More important than the fitness benefits, it’s also a way to teach your body to recover from stress more quickly and efficiently as well as to raise the body’s threshold for stress.

How does interval training help us deal with stress?

When we are exposed to a stressful event the fight or flight response is immediately activated. When we fight or flee, the body releases feel-good hormones or “bliss molecules” — such as endorphins — that make us feel relaxed, content and happy.  It’s a beautifully designed system when it’s allowed to play itself out. Guess what fighting and fleeing have in common?  PHYSICAL ACTIVITY!  Intense physical activity burns off the stress hormones and releases the bliss molecules.  Unfortunately, many of us do not get the physical activity needed to burn off these stress hormones.

Here’s the good news:  30-60 seconds of intense physical activity can release the bliss molecules — the exact amount of time you do each Hit the Deck card for!

Think about the applications to your life:  you suddenly remember you missed a deadline, you forgot to follow-up with someone, your child just threw up on the floor, or you’re stuck in traffic.  Think about what happens to your heart rate.  You feel that little shot of adrenaline?  The stress response has just been activated.  There are an endless amount of little things that trigger the flight or flight response all day long — it doesn’t have to be a major stressor!  What’s your response to these stressors?  Do you fight?  Do you flee?  Not likely.  What happens to the stress hormones?  Do they get burned off?  No — they continue to course through the body.  Do you get the release of the feel good hormones?  Not unless you get some intense physical activity.

What are your keys to exercise and dealing with stress?

Every little bit counts, so accumulate it throughout the day if you can’t get it all done in one big chunk. You could do 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes mid-day and 10 minutes after work. In fact, breaking up your workouts can actually provide more benefit!  Every time you exercise you’re boosting your metabolism. Doing it here and there is better than not doing it at all if you don’t have 30 full minutes.

As far as stress is concerned, I feel exercise is the healthiest way to deal with it – much better than drinking or fighting with the in-laws. You’re actually burning off stress hormones and restoring balance.  You’re literally changing the chemistry of your body and mind!

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