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Hormesis - tempering your body and mind

How to use stress to improve your health and wellbeing

Jeremy Leach
Jeremy Leach, PhD
Aug. 7, 2023

Table of Contents

What is Hormesis?

Fire and mountians representing how the body responds to the elements

Heat, cold, and other carefully applied stressors can strengthen the body

Image credit: Courtnie Tosana

We all know that exercise generally makes you stronger. Too much, of course can cause injury. Exercise, is an example of hormesis. Up to a certain point, it strengthens, beyond that, it weakens.

But physical exercise is just one example of hormesis; other examples of hormetic stress include exposure to:

  1. Thermal stress, i.e. exposure to extremes of cold and heat. For example: ice baths, cold showers on one hand, hot saunas on the other.
  2. Caloric restriction, i.e. fasting. For example: intermittent fasting, water fasting and dry fasting.
  3. Chemical hormesis, i.e. taking suppliments. For example, polyphenols in green tea are known to have anioxidant properties at low levels, yet high levels can be toxic (new scientist).