Stress – an adaptive response?

Exploring the potential of the human mind and body

Stress is an adaptive response to an external action or event, mediated by characteristics including personality, age, fitness and mental toughness. Researchers to date have suggested that adaptations are largely specific to the stressor, and they assist a timely return to homeostasis.  A protracted programme of endurance exercise training stresses the human body, often resulting in chronic adaptations to psychophysiological systems including: (a) maximisation of muscle fibres, (b) increased heart stroke volume, (c) reduced oxygen consumption, (d) lowered blood lactate levels, (e) reduced body fat, and, (f) a drop in resting heart rate (McArdle et al., 2015; Kenney, Wilmore & Costill, 2015). Unlike the widely accepted physiological adaptations to stress, little is known regarding the psychological changes arising out of training for an ultra-marathon. 

Clough, P. & Strycharczyk, D. (2012). Developing Mental Toughness – Improving performance, well being and positive behaviour in others, Kogan Page, London, UK

Hackney, A. C. (2006). Stress and the neuroendocrine system: the role of exercise as a stressor and modifier of stress. Expert Review of Endocrinology & Metabolism, 1(6), 783-792.

Kenney, W. L., Wilmore, J. H., & Costill, D. L. (2015). Physiology of sport and exercise. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2015). Exercise physiology: nutrition, energy, and human performance. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.