December 15, 2018

Winnipeg
0° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Give your brain a break

Tuning up your body will help you tune out your life's stressful moments

PHOTOS BY RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Carmen Yaeger works out at GoodLife Fitness Winnipeg Regent West with the help of Cameron Makarchuk, her personal trainer.</p>

PHOTOS BY RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Carmen Yaeger works out at GoodLife Fitness Winnipeg Regent West with the help of Cameron Makarchuk, her personal trainer.

Carmen Yaeger is your typical “sandwich generation” Canadian.

The 50-something Winnipegger juggles a demanding job as a Grade 6 teacher while helping in-laws move into assisted living, and helping her own mom, who still lives at her home.

And there’s a new wrinkle: Yaeger is lending a hand to her adult children as they start raising their own kids.

“Just like everyone else, there are challenges,” she says. “There are the happy days, sad days and those stressful ones, too.”

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Carmen Yaeger is your typical "sandwich generation" Canadian.

The 50-something Winnipegger juggles a demanding job as a Grade 6 teacher while helping in-laws move into assisted living, and helping her own mom, who still lives at her home.

And there’s a new wrinkle: Yaeger is lending a hand to her adult children as they start raising their own kids.

"Just like everyone else, there are challenges," she says. "There are the happy days, sad days and those stressful ones, too."

Certainly the Winnipeg mom isn’t alone feeling a little, or a lot, of stress. Statistics Canada data released earlier this year show about three in four Canadian adults regularly experience stress. While that’s hardly shocking — the act of living must involve some measure of adversity — almost one-quarter of those 15 and older indicated they consider their lives very stressful. And that number rises to 30 per cent for individuals ages 35 to 54.

That’s downright unhealthy.

High levels of stress have been linked to higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and depression — among many other negative physical and mental-health outcomes, says Meaghan Rempel, an exercise physiologist and researcher at Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at the University of Manitoba.

"In events where you have too much stress in your life — a state of chronic stress — your body can experience what’s called a hypercortisolemia," she says.

Essentially, this condition is marked by high levels of the body’s primary stress hormone — cortisol — which can put a person into perpetual "flight or fight survival mode."

As a result, the liver, which stores glucose as glycogen, releases more glucose than normal into the bloodstream. This often leading to weight gain around the abdomen. Compounding the problem is ongoing stress that also fosters insulin resistance, hampering the ability of our cells to use glucose for energy.

All of this can create "a perfect storm to develop Type 2 diabetes," Rempel says, adding the disease is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Yet stressed-out individuals can fight back by heading to the gym, or simply being more active. Rempel points to a growing body of research showing regular exercise reduces stress and, in turn, promotes better overall health.

"Exercise can basically be used to make you feel better," she says.

For instance, working out activates the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway, which has a role in the development of aging, growth and metabolism.

And activation of this pathway "also has an antidepressant effect," she says, adding some medications used to treat depression also target this biochemical process.

Exercise has also been shown to increase serotonin levels — a key neurotransmitter in regulating mood. Additionally physical activity prompts increased levels of endorphin, the body’s natural painkiller.

"That runner’s high that people talk about is the release of endorphins that make you feel good," Rempel says.

Carmen Yaeger carries a kettle bell to add difficulty to a squat workout while personal trainer Cameron Makarchuk checks her technique.</p>

Carmen Yaeger carries a kettle bell to add difficulty to a squat workout while personal trainer Cameron Makarchuk checks her technique.

You don’t have to repeat these points to Yaeger. She has been working out at the gym three times a week for several years. While physical fitness is one key reason she follows this fitness regimen, de-stressing is perhaps her most tangibly positive takeaway from it.

"Sometimes, I don’t want to go work out... I want to just sleep and stay in bed, and forget about life. But once I do, I always leave feeling way better," she says, adding weight training is her favourite gym activity.

"I generally feel much more energetic than when I got there."

Her personal trainer, Cameron Makarchuk, says many of his clients feel the same way. Yes, they work out to be physically fit, but they also enjoy the side benefit that exercise helps manage stress in their lives.

"It’s quite a big issue for a lot of people," says the fitness and wellness coach at GoodLife Fitness in Winnipeg. "Even myself, I am still not exempt from stress and anxiety."

Yet Makarchuk says it’s important for individuals who wish to move from a sedentary lifestyle of working in cubicles and caring for kids to diving headfirst into a workout to understand exercise is also a form of stress.

"It’s a positive stress," he says. But individuals need to start slowly, particularly if they have pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.

Walking is as good a place to start as any if you haven’t done much exercise of late.

"If you can squeeze in a five- or 15-minute walk, do so with no phones or screens," he says, adding those devices keep us too connected to life’s stresses. "That (going for walks) alone has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the body, which is very good."

By comparison, more vigorous exercise can increase stress and cortisol levels, he adds. But it’s stress we can control by varying the workout.

And that’s important, Rempel says.

Research shows people feel a "sense of mastery" after exercise, particularly with respect to challenging workouts.

"There is that sense of self-efficacy that you can actually succeed," she adds.

So while exercise can be a source of stress, it’s one we can manage, with a beginning and an end. In other words, we can shut it off. Moreover, exercise often serves as a distraction from the other, more persistent stressors.

That exercise can take our minds off our worries is also considered beneficial, she says.

"There’s the distraction hypothesis that essentially says when you exercise, you have an improved mood post-exercise simply because you’ve taken a break from what is causing you stress," Rempel adds. "You’re not ruminating about why you’re stressed."

Indeed, time at the gym is mind break for Yaeger.

"I just go there and forget about stuff," she says. "It’s my distraction from reality."

joelschles@gmail.com

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us