Physiology First
2 min readNov 5, 2021

The Daily Brain Freeze: Cortisol is cool, after all.

Cortisol gets a pretty bad rep in the age of Internet research related to stress. There are hundreds of stories online framing cortisol as “the stress hormone” and “the cause of stress.”

The truth is that cortisol is our big homie in the energy department. It’s told is to provide a quick boost of energy when we need it!

Cortisol hits our brain when we wake, it circulates in our blood on the daily, and it comes to our aid every time we exert ourselves, like during a workout for example.

The problem lies in the chronic dysregulation of the nervous system that has come to characterize modern life for hundreds of millions of people.

When we are in a chronically sympathetic nervous system dominant state, cortisol production is ramped up to levels that are beyond our normal energy needs.

The downside of low cortisol is not having the requisite feeling of energy to exercise or put out our best effort in a training session.

This short review in the journal of Nature highlights how the cortisol response can become overactive leading to deleterious health effects over time.

This paper highlights some of the positive benefits of cortisol.

Learning about our stress response is the first step to managing it with agency. Here’s to the learning journey, and to the cortisol derived energy boosts that make it happen!

Physiology First

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