Marathon running and cortisol - Gentle Alarm reduces stress and cortisol

in Health and Fitness (E)

[] Hannover, Germany - Running marathon halves testosterone level and increases the stress hormone cortisol. By the end of a marathon, men's cortisol levels have doubled and their testosterone levels have just about halved, according to a new study done at Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo, and published in Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia e Metabologia. The researchers monitored twenty health men aged between 25 and 42 for several days before, during and after they ran the 42.2 kilometre race.

The researchers measured the levels of hormones and muscle damage-markers in the subjects' blood. Immediately after finishing the marathon the subjects' testosterone level halved, falling from 673 to 303 ng/dl. The cortisol level rose sharply, from 20.3 to 42.5 microg/dl. A day after the race, the cortisol level had not returned completely to the starting level. A marathon, triathlon or ironman race may cause marked physical stress, resulting in a distinct hormonal imbalance and cellular damage.

What is cortisol? Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal cortex in the adrenal gland that plays different roles: Its primary function is to increase the amino acid supply to the liver when there are low levels present. This act, however, serves to increase protein catabolism. Cortisol also serves to increase blood pressure, blood sugar levels and will have an immunosuppressive effect on the body. Thus, when high levels are seen over time, there is also an increased chance of becoming ill due to a decreased functioning of the immune system.

What affects the release of cortisol? Potentially, one of the largest factors that can affect the release of cortisol in the body is psychological or physical stress.

Cortisol is the body's primary stress hormone. When the brain stimulates its release in response to physical or emotional stress, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol into the blood. Cortisol helps the body regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It also is an antiinflammatory, an antiallergic agent and reduces the actions of the immune system. Many synthetic versions of cortisol have medicinal uses.

Normally, it's present in the body at higher levels in the morning after waking up, and at its lowest at night. Although stress isn't the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it has been termed "the stress hormone" because it's also secreted in higher levels during the body's 'fight or flight' response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body.

Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects: A quick burst of energy for survival reasons, heightened memory functions, a burst of increased immunity, lower sensitivity to pain and it helps maintain homeostasis in the body.

While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body's response to stress, it's important that the body's relaxation response to be activated so the body's functions can return to normal following a stressful event like a marathon run, a half marathon run or a triathlon.

Higher and more prolonged levels of (catabolic) cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with acute or chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as: Impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, decreased bone density, muscle tissue degradation, skeletal muscle wasting, high blood pressure, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses and slowed wound healing.

The cortisol awakening response is an increase of about 50% in cortisol levels occurring after awakening in the morning. Shortly after awakening, a sharp increase occurs in the blood level of cortisol.

To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, Clinical Neurologist Dr. Hans Joerg Stuerenburg, M.D., Ph.D. developed and patented an innovative adaptive stress free alarm clock, "Gentle Alarm".

Sudden, abrupt waking in the morning as with loud, conventional alarm clocks and the associated release of stress hormones from the adrenal gland can be avoided by using this novel and intelligent self adapting, personal sleep cycle alarm clock "Gentle Alarm".

Stuerenburg sees health benefits of this intelligent innovation in weight loss, stress reduction, increase of skeletal muscle mass, pain reduction, enhanced male virility, improvement of cognitive performance, improvement of fatigue, chronic fatigue and better general health and physical fitness.

Gentle Alarm is easy to use. In order to be woken up smoothly, sleepers will be guided from the deep sleep phase or dream phase into the light sleep phase by gentle sounds.

Unlike the hitherto existing sleep cycle alarm clocks Gentle Alarm does not require additional implement such as wristband motion sensors, sound sensors or movement sensors. Users simply set their desired wake up time. After waking up, they merely slide a finger across the screen to stop the alarm. Everything else is taken care of by the patented and intelligent system.

The "Gentle Alarm" - app works by waking users up during their normally occurring periods of light sleep so that instead of rude awakenings associated with cortisol and stress hormone release they experience mornings where they feel they were biologically woken up by their own bodies as opposed to mechanically through intrusive sound or motion.

When you couple these facts with the app's smooth interface and user friendly lay out, it comes as no surprise that the "Gentle Alarm" was ranked among the ten best alarm clocks in the entire world. In November 2010 "The Independent", London, UK, one of the four largest British quality newspapers named "Gentle Alarm" (patent pending) for iPhone and iPod touch one of "The ten best alarm clocks" and the best alarm clock - app worldwide. "The Independent" mentioned: "Best alarm clock for stress heads. The Gentle Alarm app for iPhone and iPod touch. This app monitors your natural sleep patterns and produces a personalised waking programme which stirs you from your slumber at the least stressful point of your sleep cycle".

Device Requirements:
* iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
* Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later
* 0.6 MB

Pricing and Availability:
Gentle Alarm 2.1.0 is $3.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Healthcare & Fitness category.

Craft mobile is an agile team specialized on the implementation of iPhone applications. Craft mobile was initiated in 2009 and is a project of Craft AG, Freiburg (established Aug. 2000). Dr. Hans Joerg Stuerenburg (M.D., Ph.D.) is Specialist in Neurology and Head of the Neurological Department, Klinik Niedersachsen, Medical Center, Bad Nenndorf, Germany. Copyright (C) 2011 Craft AG, Freiburg. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.


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