Weight Gain and Stress

How Weight Gain and Stress are Interrelated

In 2014-15, around 6 million Aussies (18+ years) were termed overweight (i.e. a BMI of 25 kg/m2 to 29.9 kg/m2). This grim statistic is a testimony to the need to know the reasons behind obesity and how it can be controlled.

Many of us try a lot of ways to stay in shape. Be it visiting cheap 24-hour gyms or following a fad diet, there are many steps that we can take but the efforts can sometime have minimal effect. There is a key culprit that many of us forget to factor in our weight loss journey and that is ‘stress’. 

Many types of research show that stress and weight gain are interrelated. A study by University College London (UCL) researchers looked at 2500+ respondents. For over 4 years, the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) in hair was recorded and studied with the waist circumference and BMI. It was noted that those who had bigger waists and higher BMI also has higher levels of cortisol in the hair. This nailed a direct correlation between obesity and stress.

In this blog, we will take a close look at why it is interrelated and what steps can be taken to overcome stress.

Relationship between stress and weight gain

The relationship between stress and weight gain is explained in three different ways as below:

  • Hormonal changes

Your body reacts in a negative way when you encounter anxiety, stress, or tension. With stress, there are certain hormonal changes in the body that occur. This change in hormones negatively impacts the process of burning and storing fats. 

  • Incapable of burning calories

Due to stress, the metabolism level in the body slows down. Metabolism is a way through which your body usually breaks down the carbohydrates and energy. Because of lower metabolism, your body is incapable of burning fat, which eventually leads to weight gain.

  • Lack of sleep

When you are stressed, you are unable to get adequate sleep, your body is tired and then it finds comfort in food. With this, you start binge eating and can find yourself with a bucket of ice-cream in the middle of the night. This also increases your weight which can be difficult to lose later.

How can fitness help reduce stress?

You must be wondering about how fitness can reduce stress. Let’s take a quick look at the inter-relation between stress, weight loss, and exercise.

When done properly and regularly, exercise can break the link between stress and weight gain by helping the body to stay in shape and reducing negative instincts such as food cravings. In recent studies, it has been found that HIIT workout has proven beneficial in reducing the level of cortisol, which is responsible for increasing fat storage. 

Hence, workouts like HIIT and other similar high-intensity workouts help to boost your metabolism level which eventually helps in reducing weight. It is more effective than traditional exercises such as swimming, running, or low cardio workouts. 

By joining fitness classes that offer HIIT workouts is a good option when you are stressed. Similarly, a short session at the gym, a game of football, or a stroll in your neighbourhood can help reduce your stress and make you fit. So, it makes perfect sense to check if HIIT is offered at a health club near you before you join.

How fitness training can be your best assistant when you are stressed and want to lose weight?

Interested in knowing a great HIIT and lifestyle routine to help you curb obesity and achieve optimal weight? Then read on below:

  • Convenient sessions of HIIT

Usually it is very difficult to incorporate a set time or routine for a fitness center when your lifestyle is stressed and you have long working hours. Therefore, HIIT fitness classes can be incorporated during the break time with a span of a mere 25-45 minutes. This is an extra incentive for those who cannot dedicate time to the gym before or after work.

  • Combining muscle building and cardio 

Exercises like sprints, squats, and burpees can be included with weights when planning out HIIT training.

  • Taking a Walk

Taking a brisk stroll for 15- 30 minutes will elevate your metabolism and digest the fats and sugars just eaten.

  • Exercise before sleep

If you are dealing with sleep issues, a short intense workout just before sleep can lower the stress levels and help in relaxing your mind and body.

Other routines to be followed to prevent stress

Along with fitness there are other broader approaches involved as below. 

  • Spending more time in nature outdoors.
  • Regularly checking your diet
  • Mindfulness and Meditation
  • Enrolling in health clubs and stress management groups

When followed regularly, these steps can help prevent stress from occurring.


Chronic stress can elevate the obesity levels in a person. With fitness and proper workout routines, it is possible for a person to bring down the level of stress and with it, curb the obesity levels to lead a fitter healthier life.

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