Is Your Workout Making You Stressed Out?
Exercise is widely considered by health professionals to be an antidote to stress. But what if the type of exercise program you choose is causing stress rather than providing relief?
Dr. Peter D’Adamo believes that individuals have a different physiological response to various types of exercise. In other words, the spinning class that energizes your best friend and makes her feel great may be causing your body to overproduce stress hormones, leaving you feeling agitated and stressed out — not a good feeling. Perhaps this may be the reason many people enthusiastically begin exercise programs, but quit after just a few weeks.
Dr. D’Adamo says many factors interact to determine your tolerance for various types of exercise. He says proper nutrition, prior training, fitness level, and stress in other parts of your life all play a role and should be taken into consideration when choosing an exercise program. Dr. D’Adamo also suggests there is another factor that should be considered — blood type.
Dr. D’Adamo has researched the connection between digestion, exercise, and blood type and published his findings in his book, Eat Right 4 Your Type. He says the blood type-exercise connection has to do with the way our bodies process the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
“People are biologically ‘wired’ to react differently to stress, and our blood type plays a significant role in the basal levels of the stress hormones that we produce,” explains Dr. D’Adamo.
When you engage in intense physical exercise, he says, you are provoking a heightened physiological response, which results in the production of adrenaline and cortisol. Dr. D’Adamo cites research that found that people with blood type A have higher resting levels of cortisol.
“When a person with blood type A chooses calming exercises like yoga, their cortisol levels go down. When they engage in intense aerobic exercise, more cortisol is released into the bloodstream,” he says.
Dr. D’Adamo says that people with type O blood are at the opposite end of the spectrum. “Although it takes more to initiate the stress response, it takes them longer to come into balance again. They are more susceptible to prolonged stress or the build-up of adrenaline, and this can lead to adrenal-neurological exhaustion.”
He recommends brisk, regular exercise for people with O blood type and suggests intense physical exercises such as aerobics, running and resistance training help type O’s to prevent the build-up of stress hormones.
Dr. D’Adamo says that blood types B and AB fall somewhere in the middle of types A and O in their stress response; with type B being more “O-like” in their stress response and type AB having a similar reaction to people with blood type A. However, blood types B and AB have the unique ability to respond quickly to stress-reducing techniques.
“This ability to recover from stress may be due to the fact that people who possess the B antigen (types B and AB) appear to clear the nitric oxide molecule from their bodies more rapidly than the other blood types,” says Dr. D’Adamo.
A study in the medical journal, Lancet, confirms that the ability to rapidly clear nitric oxide can be highly beneficial to the cardiovascular system and also found implications for the activity of neurotransmitters, enabling faster recovery from stress. Although the study did not provide a specific reason as to why people with the B antigen processed nitric oxide more efficiently, Dr. D’Adamo believes the answer may lie in their genes.
“The scientific community agrees that genes that are close together influence each other, and the gene that is responsible for generating an enzyme that converts nitric oxide lies immediately next to the gene responsible for blood type. I believe there is a strong connection in this case,” he says.