Stress, Sports and Performance Essay

1856 Words 8 Pages
Actors, athletes and students all have something in common. They all perform their tasks with varying stress levels. What is this stress that we all talk about? Stress can be defined as a physical, mental or emotional demand, which tends to disturb the homeostasis of the body. Used rather loosely, the term may relate to any kind of pressure, be it due to one's job, schoolwork, marriage, illness or death of a loved one. The common denominator in all of these is change. Loss of familiarity breeds this anxiety with any change being viewed as a "threat".

The issue of anxiety is an important aspect of performance. Whether it is during the tense moments of a championship game or amidst that dreaded History exam, anxiety affects our
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Up to a certain point stress is beneficial. We perform with greater energy and increased awareness with the influx of excitatory hormones that release immediate energy (11).

As we all probably know, there is only so much tension one can take. Whether it is constant episodes or chronic stress, either can transform what was beneficial stress into "distress". The stress hormones which are protective initially and liberated for self-preservation may cause damage due to overproduction. This has an effect on the entire metabolism, including the rate at which our cells grow and are repaired as well as the production of the cells in the immune system (1).

The hormonal surge of glucocorticoids released to promote utilization of glucose as well as the conversion of protein and lipids to usable glucose can become detrimental in the long run. One clinical symptom that arises from this hormonal imbalance is an increase in appetite, which in a chronic situation, may lead to obesity (2). Catecholamines also increase blood pressure and repeated spikes of hypertension may promote formation of atherosclerotic plaques, particularly with combination of high cholesterol and lipids can ultimately lead to heart disease and stroke.

The brain of course is a crucial target and neurons exposed to elevated glucocorticoids for long periods of time are known to be

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