Fire up your metabolism with these top 4 fat-busting tips

Muscles help us burn fat, so if you wish to have a healthy metabolism, focus on reducing your everyday stress

Vahdaneh Vahid

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The “stress response” is life-saving for any human or animal - it alerts the nervous system to automatically go into “fight or flight” response. However, we are constantly triggering this “stress response” by road rage, worrying about bills, or muscle stiffness.

During the “stress response,” the body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. The role of cortisol is to break down muscle tissue for fuel, and the role of adrenaline is to increase our heart rate, sending blood to our muscles to prepare you to “fight or flight” from an emergency situation.

Muscles are metabolically active and help us burn fat, so if you wish to have a healthy metabolism, focus on reducing your everyday stress response by applying these tips.

1. Workout time

You can trigger the “stress response” by overdoing it at the gym, so your workouts can become counter-productive. Keep your workouts short - no longer than 15-20 minutes.

Consider adding a functional circuit routine into your workout program. This is a great way to utilize key muscles (such as your legs, butt and core) more efficiently, preventing injury and improving your metabolism.

Learn to listen to your body. Once you feel any changes in your mood or if energy levels drop, stop. Being in a constant “stress response” can lead to insulin sensitivity, which can cause havoc on your blood sugar levels, increasing fat storage around your stomach.

2. Natural light

Winter can affect our mood, and if you work in an office surrounded by fluorescent lighting, you are not getting enough nature light throughout the day. Consider using LED light bulbs at home as they resemble natural daylight, or try getting yourself outside. Exposing yourself to just 10 minutes of sunlight can increase your body temperature naturally, supporting your thyroid gland and metabolic rate.

3. Muscle tension

Massage induces the relaxation response, lowers the heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. This simulates the nervous system to automatically slow everything down, which leads you to that calm state of mind.

The same affect can be achieved when you apply “self myofascial release” (self-massage) using a variety of tools - such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls or medicine balls - to roll the body out on. “Self myofascial release” increases blood circulation, allowing you to move more freely during your workouts. It decreases your risk of injury, and reduces the need to trigger a stress response.

4. Breathing

When we are stressed, we tense up. This compresses the diaphragm, and we begin to breathe shallow, using the muscles around your neck and chest. Recognizing the signs of stress and consciously controlling our breathing can immediately calm you down and allow you to think through the situation.

Practise diaphragmatic breathing every day. The easiest way is to lie down, face up, and place your hands on your upper abdomen. Take a deep breath until you feel your hands rise. Hold your breath, then slowly exhale. You should feel your hands lower.

Repeat for several minutes, and you will notice a relaxation response.