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Freshman Fitness- My Adventure

College is a defining time in the life of all those who choose to attend. There is no say in the matter. The life that you had before you arrived is gone in the wind and you become an entirely new person. Freshman year is a time of major transformation. Many people enter freshman year with goals. Some of the goals include fitness. People say, “I will never get the ‘freshman 15’.” Others say, “It’s time for me to get in the best shape of my life.” To be honest, when I entered college, I had no idea what I wanted. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t have any major fitness goals, I only knew I wanted to keep working out. If I were to gain the freshman 15, I wanted it to be entirely in muscle.

The first week of my freshman year, I purchased a membership to the campus gym. The second week of the year, I joined the Powerlifting team. I saw myself on a great path. I went to the powerlifting workouts and I loved the team. There were a few guys on the team who were intimidatingly big, and I saw them as role models in the gym. I went to the workouts every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. For a time, I was doing very well. I started squatting and deadlifting again, something I had not done since football workouts. I improved my form and gained a bit of muscle, but not as much as I would have liked.

Admittedly, I got a little bored of the powerlifting workouts. In the two hours that we would work out, we would only do three exercises: bench, squat, and deadlift. To me, I felt like we were moving insanely slow. When I typically go to the gym, I can knock out at least seven exercises followed by an abs workout in less than two hours. After a while, I started making excuses to myself that seemed valid as to why I couldn’t go. I was pledging a fraternity, so they already had us doing tons of push ups, wall-sits, planks, and flutter kicks. I told myself that I couldn’t workout the day before a line-up because I couldn’t be so sore that I couldn’t keep up with my pledge brothers, and I told myself I couldn’t go the day after because I had already worked out the day before. After a few short weeks, I stopped going to Powerlifting workouts entirely. I told myself I was getting a good enough workout regardless, but I knew that was a lie.

Once pledging was over, I told myself I would get back to the gym. The problem, though, was that once I got back to the gym, I couldn’t lift what I used to be able to. When I saw that, I lost my motivation to go back to the gym, because I no longer felt confident. When winter break came, I was too busy getting drunk and hanging out with my girlfriend to make time to go to the gym. I was lazy. 

When the next semester began, I was no better. In the heart of the frigid and dreary Penn State winter, I found it hard to find motivation to do anything other than finish a season of my favorite show on Netflix every other day. I used the excuse of the gym being too crowded with all of the “New Years Resolutioners” for it to be worth going. It wasn’t until I planned my spring break that I finally got back the motivation to get back to the gym. I was going to the gym at least three times a week, every week for a month, and I felt good. I got myself all the way back up to the point I was at when I first got to college.

Once spring break was over, I didn’t go back to the gym for a month. I didn’t have any good excuses, and I didn’t have any motivation. In the past few weeks, I’ve managed to get my lazy ass to the gym once or twice a week, but I know I’m not doing enough to make any real progress. Once you fall off the horse, it feels so hard to get back on. I can’t say that I’m unhappy with my body today, but neither can I say that I am happy with it.

As Bro Science Life said,

My only hope is that this summer I will regain the determination I once had.

The Whole30

Dieting is a touchy subject that I addressed briefly in my blog post Spring Break Body. There are few diets that I will ever endorse due to the negative connotation attached to the word, but I’ve recently come across the Whole30 diet, and it is one of the few that I will ever personally endorse. It has been endorsed by doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, physical therapists, and acupuncturists worldwide. (Testimonials.) As many health issues have to do with your diet, I find it important to mention that it is reported that the Whole30 can actually help with skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies and fertility issues.

Most diets tell you to eat less, eat fewer meals, buy their prepackaged meals online, or an endless list of other crazy things. You should never eat less; you need your calories. You should never eat fewer meals; you need to keep a healthy, regulated metabolism. For the love of god, you should never eat prepackaged meals. Do you have any idea how many preservatives and hidden additives are in them?

The Whole30 diet is unlike most diets that you have ever come across. Whole30 has nothing that they’re trying to sell you. They’re not trying to help you get fit and sexy in the next 30 days. They are not at all your typical diet program, though they are one of the most difficult diets out there.

It’s not going to be easy, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

The only thing that the Whole30 diet advertises is making you feel the healthiest you ever have in your life.

The Whole30 rules are (in summary) as follows:

Yes:

Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed. Don’t worry… these guidelines are outlined in extensive detail in our free shopping list.

No:

Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial.
Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking.
Do not eat grains.
Do not eat legumes.
Do not eat dairy.
Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.
Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients.
One last and final rule: You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program.”

Personally, I don’t think that I could ever follow this diet, but I’m only missing out. The benefits listed in the advertising for this program as well as in the testimonials are substantial. Yes, this is a hard diet, and yes, it is possible. In fact, many testimonials state that after the Whole30 challenge, it can be hard to return to your old diet. The reason for this is that many things in your everyday diet aren’t necessary nor healthy for you.

It’s important to note that the food pyramid that many people abide by is drawn up to sell exactly what the government wants us to buy. Two major groups on that are dairy and grain, neither of which are at all essential to the human diet. Don’t believe me? Ask a celiac or someone with lactose-intolerance if they’re still living and breathing.

Something I like the most about the Whole30 diet is their final rule of no scales and no measuring. This shows that this diet really is just for your health, though you will reap countless other benefits from it. (It is important to note that it is acceptable to measure yourself and step on a scale before and after the Whole30- just not during it.)

Unlike most other diets, the Whole30 will change you not only physically, but mentally. On their site, they hilariously outline each of the stages of the Whole30 challenge, and they’re not lying. I have a friend who did the Whole30 diet and calls it one of the best things she ever did, but you should know what you’re in for. If you can make it through this challenge, then you deserve my undying respect. To see the timeline of the stages to expect, head on over to the Whole30 Timeline!

 

 

Spring Break Body

It’s about that time of the year that everyone starts scrambling to get a “spring break body.” This is an approximately month long rush that consists of people who do not regularly work out scrambling to the gym in a last ditch effort to look good for their spring break vacations. To people who are constantly dedicated to the gym, these crowds of people are quite the nuisance. Constant gym goers dread the popular gym rushes throughout the year, such as the fall “new school year new me” rush, the “New Year’s resolutioners” rush, and the “spring break body” rush. But alas, we are all at the gym to get in shape, so those who are jumping in the game late deserve just as much respect as anyone who is constantly at the gym. I’ll help you out to get the most out of this month. I’ll just be looking forward to the week that the gym is empty after spring break when few of the “spring break body rushes” return.

First and foremost, it is important that you set a specific goal of what you want to accomplish. The problem with many people is that they constantly work towards something, but they don’t know what it is. It is immensely helpful to set clearly defined goals so that you have something to keep striving for and so that you get the feeling of satisfaction when you finally accomplish your goals. It is important to make sure that your goals are realistic. For example, these goals are not realistic expectations for one month of working out.

(Note: the image on the left is fake and photoshopped.)

Setting realistic goals is essential to the process, as setting your goals too high will leave you in constant disappointment.

It is important to note that just as important as going to the gym is making sure that you’re putting only exactly what food your body needs to recover into your diet. This means no cheat days, no cheat meals, and no cheat snacks. Any of these things are likely to lead into a downward spiral. Personally, my diet consists almost exclusively of fruits and vegetables, lean meat (chicken,) beans, and protein shakes. Realistically, these are the only things that you need in your diet to survive and they are the healthiest thing for you. My personal recommendation for a good breakfast would be to skip the bagel or muffin and instead opt for fresh fruit, or a Naked juice drink. Personally, I start every morning with a Naked: Protein. The fruit replenishes the vitamins in your body and the natural sugar wakes you up. When you’re looking at what to eat, don’t look at the label, simply ask yourself “is this healthy or not.” Some people make mistakes such as forsaking something because it contains fat, although that fat may be healthy fat.

Most importantly, eating healthy is likely to help you burn fast faster than fasting will, as fasting causes your metabolism to slow and causes your body to digest your muscle and not the fat, leading to a very frail appearance. It’s important to realize that in these days, fit is sexy- not just thin. Whether your mission is to bulk up or to slim down, make sure that you are including a great deal of protein in your diet. The ideal protein intake for both weight loss and for muscle gain is equivalent to your body weight in grams of protein. For example, someone who weighs 150lbs should ingest 150 grams of protein a day.

One of the things that I find to be most vital to my process is staying hydrated at all times. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere, and constantly drink it. It is suggested to have 8 12oz glasses of water a day. The reason why it is important to hydrate is that the water will flush the toxins out of your body, hydrate your cells, and allow you a quicker recovery. Recovery is essential to the process, as it is not ideal to always feel sore. This is a sign that your body is not regenerating what it has used up and this is unhealthy. In order to optimize your recovery, make sure you get at least 9 hours of sleep. Sleep is when the majority of the recovery process takes place, so if you skip on sleep, recovery will skip on you. Make sure you’re ingesting sufficient protein and stretch your muscles to open up the tears in your muscle tissue and allow for better growth and results!

Running

Running is an activity that millions of people participate in as a way to get in shape or stay in shape. Some people run competitively or solely for the “runner’s high.” Before I start talking about running though, I would like to address many of the issues with it so that you can take precautions before you injure yourself. Dr. Weil says, “Running traumatizes the body, especially joints in the legs, knees, and back, as well as the kidneys.” (Dr. Weil’s article on running.) Running is something that can lead to osteoarthritis, or joint damage in other words, as it is a high impact form of cardio. Running can also lead to breast sag, which is caused by the bouncing of breasts as women run. Lastly, runners are much more likely to get skin cancer, as runners often sweat off their sunscreen and because high-intensity training can weaken your immune system. As a precaution to osteoarthritis, it is advised that you never run on concrete. Optimally, you would want to run on either dirt paths or on cinder tracks. To minimize breast sag caused by running, sports bras are actually very effective as they reduce bouncing by 78%. (Osteoarthritis and Skin Sag Source.)

 

Now, enough with the scary stuff, let’s get on to talking about how to make running easier!

Take vitamins. I believe that this is the most important thing to improve how much you get out of a work out and how quickly and effectively you recover. The difference that vitamins make is definitely noticeable. If you want to run, first make sure that you’re also getting sleep. Sleep is essential to recovery, so don’t sacrifice sleep for running. Find a way to fit both into your routine while trying to sleep at least 8 hours a night. It is essential that you make sure to eat iron. Without sufficient iron in your diet, you will constantly feel tired and drained. Some good sources of iron are red meats, eggs, kidney beans, and fish.

It is important to be progressive in your running routine. If you try to push yourself too hard, it is likely that you will injure yourself, as your body is not yet used to training at that intensity. Also, try to breathe slowly when you run. Breathing hard is one of the biggest mistakes that people who are new to running make. Breathing quickly does not allow all of the CO2 to exit your lings. Stay hydrated. Speed up the second half of your run and try to beat the time from the first half of your run. Use this to motivate yourself. Push your chest forward when you run to avoid slouching shoulders.Repeat mantras to yourself to motivate yourself to keep going. Most importantly, run on your forefoot (the front ball of your foot below your toes) as this will reduce the impact on your joints.

Take a cold bath after you run. Even if you can only bare it for five minutes, you will feel more than rewarded. Whereas taking a hot bath after a workout can cause your muscle tears to bleed out, a cold bath flushes the lactic acid out of your muscle, effectively reducing soreness.

Well, that’s one way to take a cold bath.

Squatting is advisable for improving your running form and increasing the stability and mobility of your joints. Squatting will also give you more power in your legs which may allow you to run faster.

 

Set new goals. This will keep you from plateauing in your improvement. Change your routes. Some routes put more pressure on one leg than the other and cause disproportionate strength. Keep a record of your running. This way, you can see your progress and set new goals. Now get on your sneakers and go run!

Why You Should Deadlift

Every time that you go to the gym, the deadlift should be the first thing on your mind. Deadlifting is unarguably the best workout you can do. According to David Robson, a bodybuilder, personal trainer and contributor to Bodybuilding.com, “In my experience as an athlete, and based on the results witnessed by many of my personal training clients, the deadlift, if performed correctly, will build unparalleled mass while strengthening all the major muscles groups.”

Form is the post important part to deadlifting. Without proper form, you are going to hurt yourself. There is no question about that. With a lot of workouts, you can get away with improper form, but deadlift is not one of them. In order to deadlift properly, there are many elements of your form that you need to perfect. Firstly, you should set your feet about shoulder width apart. Next, you should grab the bar with your arms straight so that the inside of your elbow is touching the outside of your knee. Next, you should pull the weight all the way up to your shins. This may feel uncomfortable, but it’s necessary to keep the weight aligned with your center of mass and so that you lift the weight in the most efficient motion. That means pull the bar all the way up to your shins. Wear high socks, because if you’re doing it right the bar should drag across your shins as you lift it. Next, you should have your hips low, your knees bent, and your back straight and as tight as possible. You should also align your head with your spine. When you lift the weight, you should be lifting almost entirely with your legs. You should only significantly use your back muscle when you get the bar all the way up and you have to lock your hips out.

One of the great benefits to the deadlift is it gives you a great increase in posture. This is because the final part of the deadlift is for you to lock your hips out and to stand with valiant posture. Locking the weight out is possibly one of the most satisfying moments you will have in the gym. Having good posture is an essential part of life because it ensures that you do not encounter back problems. Additionally, it makes you look like a much more confident person.

According to exercise physiologist Kevin Farley, the deadlift engages all of your major muscle groups. It is honestly the way to get the most bang for your buck while you’re at the gym. No workout engages as many muscle groups as the deadlift.

Deadlifting, along with all of its aforementioned benefits, is simply the most practical exercise. Throughout our life, we are constantly faces with the task of lifting up simple objects and putting them back down. Seldom will you find yourself faced with the task of pushing something off of your chest or holding something and having to squat with it.

If you’re someone who is afraid of failure at the gym, you never need to be afraid of the deadlift. The great thing about the deadlift is that if you find that you cannot lift the weight, you don’t have to worry; you can simply drop it. With other workouts, you may end up trapped under the weight, but with deadlift, you can just let the weights hit the floor. In fact, on your way back down from a deadlift it is actually recommended that you practically drop the weight whilst keeping your hands on the bar. So go out and deadlift!

How You’re Ruining Your Workout as Soon as It Ends

Many people think that just working out will be enough to fulfill all of what they were thinking of when they started their work out. This is false. Getting more fit and getting the most out of your work out is not just about what you do while you’re in the gym. If you truly think this, then you are grandly mistaken. Getting the most of your work out does not only consist of what you do while you’re in the gym.

Do you even stretch bro? Although there have been studies that have shown that stretching before a workout is not likely to reduce the risk of sustaining workout related injuries, that does not mean that there is no point in stretching. What do you do when you work out? You tighten your muscles. What do you do when you stretch? You loosen your muscles out. If you keep your muscles tightened, your recovery time will be much longer, which means that you won’t be getting the most out of your next workout.

Do not be mistaken, one workout is enough to put you on your path towards your goal, but it most definitely will not get you to your goal. The real mistake is in thinking that one workout makes a big difference. One workout a week is definitely better than no work outs a week, but if you want to make significant progress, then it is recommended that you train at least three days out of a week.

Oh so you want to make some “real progress”? Oh, so you want to get huge? Oh, so you want to get the most out of your workout? STOP OVERTRAINING THEN. Overtraining is one of the least productive things you can do. There is a certain point in your workout where you should know that you should stop, and you should stop then. In fact, after two hours of training, your body starts to secrete a hormone that leads to the digestion of MUSCLE TISSUE in order to give you the energy to keep on going. If you want to get the most out of your workout, then know your limits. It’s likely that you will only achieve 70% of your potential by overtraining. To add to that, you’ll weaken your immune system. Train at your limits.

Working out is one thing. Recovering is another thing. There is no point in working out if you’re never going to recover. Sleep is the time when your body recovers. Some people think that they can survive off of just getting 6 hours of sleep a night, but when people are teenagers, the body actually requires a full 9 hours of sleep in order for your body to fully recover.

Stop being dehydrated! Drink a glass of water! You should aim to drink at least two quarts of water a day. Drinking more water makes it that so your heart doesn’t have to work quite as hard to deliver nutrients to your body, and nutrients are delivered more effectively!

If you’re going to work out, follow these tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout!

Gym Etiquette

The gym can tend to be a bit of an intimidating place for novices; it makes complete sense, though. It’s like when you go over a friend’s house for the first time and you don’t know how exactly to act around their parents or family. It feels a little bit like you’re tip toeing around broken glass. In order to help absolve this feeling, I have set out to teach you some basic gym etiquette so that you can be respectful of the gym. The gym is a shrine to many, and it is important that one keeps it in it’s right order.

This is one of the most important parts of gym etiquette. Never, and I mean never, curl in the squat rack. It may seem harmless, but the point of the squat rack is for people to do SQUATS not to curl. If you ever find yourself curling in the squat rack, I promise that you will receive a lot of dirty looks.

This is possibly one of the most annoying things that can happen in the gym. People in the gym should not be giving you advice and you should not be giving them advice unless they ask for it or if they are about to do something wrong and hurt themselves. As someone who has been in this situation multiple times, I cannot stress how annoying it is when people go out of their way in the gym to tell you about how you should be doing things their way in the gym. Unless you are a licensed personal trainer, you should not be giving people unwarranted fitness advice.

Another one of the most annoying things in the gym is when people are constantly dropping the weights. When you drop weights, it reflects poorly on you. Dropping the weights gives the impression that either you don’t respect the weights or you weren’t strong enough to lift the weights in the first place. The only two situations where it is completely acceptable to drop the weights is either when you’re deadlifting or if you are doing Olympic lifts with rubber weights. For those two, it is actually safest if you drop the weights on the way down, but do keep in mind that as basic courtesy, you should not let the weights bounce more than once.

I cannot tell you how frustrating it is for people like me who call the gym their home when people make an absolute mess of the weights. Some people put the weights they used back in the wrong place, while others don’t even put the weights back at all. Not only is this annoying, but it can be dangerous to have dumbbells lying on the floor where people might not notice them.

Don’t be that guy. Don’t be on your phone at the gym. Be at the gym to be at the gym. If you don’t take your workout seriously, then other people won’t take you seriously.

How to Get Your Workout Habits to Stick

Many people who get into fitness have on common problem: it is extremely difficult to stay in your routine. Every few weeks, you might have a moment where you decide that you want to start taking things much more seriously, but the revelations of that moment hardly seem to stick around long enough to keep you going.

Motivation is what makes good people great, but it is so hard to keep that type of motivation going. We have all been there. It is important to constantly think about WHY you started working out. Whether it be to look good in clothes, get the beach body you’re looking for, or to just feel better about yourself, you need to constantly remind yourself with that goal. When you know you should go to the gym, but you really don’t want to, just take time to think about why you started. Personally, a great motivation for me is to follow a bunch of fitness motivation accounts on instagram. They make me feel jealous of other people for how much they have achieved, but then I remind myself that with the right dedication, I can get there too.

In college, it is often hard to find time to work out. We all have busy schedules. A vital part to keeping your workout routine is to mark it on your calendar when you’ll go to the gym. Work around your schedule and find free time when you know you could be going to the gym. When you’re sitting around your dorm during this time wondering what to do, your first move should be to look at your calendar. Have it be a physical calendar. Have it be something that you can track. Mark down the days that you make it to the gym and the days that you don’t. Just seeing this can often be enough to make you want to better yourself.

Work out at the time of day that works best for you. Some days the time that you planned out just doesn’t work out. Even if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean that you should entirely give up. Find more time to work out and actually do it. Even if it isn’t as much time as you usually like to spend working out, even half of your usual workout is better than doing nothing.

Thinking about possibly working out later? Put your work out clothes on right now. I’m talking RIGHT NOW. As soon as you’re already in your clothes, you’re already half way to the gym. Even if you still have a bunch of errands to run, you’ll be doing them ready to do the hardest part of your day: taking the first step out of the door to go to the gym. Dress ready and you will start to feel ready. Take away your excuses one step at a time and eventually there will be none left.

Why College Students Need Yoga

Yoga is “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.” (Google definition.) Every college student should consider doing yoga. There are numerous benefits of doing yoga. If you don’t at least give yoga a shot, then you’re missing out.

College students are the #1 most stressed demographic of people in the United States today (Source.) We all know the stress that comes with being a college student, whether that stress is because we have way too much work to do or if we don’t have any work to do and we feel like we should. Before I came to college, people told me the greatest thing about college is the extreme amount of free time that you have. What I have found, is that free time is some of the busiest time of my day. Trying to juggle everything in our every day lives comes with a great amount of stress. Yoga has been shown to be able to greatly benefit the three main aspects of ourselves that are the most often affected by our stress: our body, mind and breathing. This is actually what yoga means. Yoga is Sanskrit for “union” because yoga unites these three things.

 

Yoga may seem intimidating to a beginner. A beginner may believe that he/she won’t be able to reap all of the benefits of yoga. I can tell you by experience that this is in all aspects wrong. I started doing yoga because my mom always talked it up to my brother and me, so we decided to sign up for a four session beginner class of heated yoga. At first it was difficult to get my muscles used to the motions. The first few times that you go through the movements, you begin to feel sore, but as the class progresses, that soreness is cleared from your mind. I would say that one of the greatest things about yoga is the amazing natural high you get from it. After a good class, you feel as if you are floating on a cloud. That is what I live for.

 

“Research suggests yoga affects how you perform in the classroom. It improves listening skills, enhances focus and concentration skills, and improves all-around awareness. Additionally, studies show that students who regularly partake in yoga are generally happier and more sociable, qualities that lend themselves to a better classroom environment.” (U.S. News Health.) If you are like me, then you know the struggle of trying to stay concentrated through a lecture. You may be staring at the professor and watching his/her lips move, but nothing is processing. The increased concentration and focus that comes from yoga is a nice way to patch this problem without having to look for alternative solutions.

Overall, yoga is a great way to improve your health. There are very few excuses to not do yoga. The great thing about yoga is that it is where all excuses dissolve and nothing else matters.

Sex and Health

There are numerous reason why people have sex. Sex is not only fun, but it is incredibly good for you. Of course it is natural human instinct to want to have sex, but there are other benefits to it other than reproduction (although most times that’s preferred not to happen.) In this post, we will explore some of the benefits that sex has that you wouldn’t think of.

Firstly, sex is amazing for your immune system. “Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that college students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of  antibodies compared to students who had sex less often.” (web.md source.) So if you don’t want to get sick, make sure you spend a healthy amount of time in the sack.

Additionally, sex will lower your blood pressure, so instead of using the usual solutions, use the most fun solution. “One landmark study found that sexual intercourse specifically (not masturbation) lowered systolic blood pressure.”-Joseph J. Pinzone, MD. Systolic blood pressure is the first number on your blood pressure test.

A great reason to be having sex is that sex counts as exercise. Sex is a great cardiovascular exercise, and it also utilizes many muscles that you aren’t used to using. Sex actually burns 5 calories a minute, which comes out to 300 calories an hour (depending on the intensity.) So, a great way to stay in shape, as an addition to your normal work out regimen, make sure that you’re spending enough time doing the deed. We all know it’s more fun than the treadmill.

Furthermore, sex is actually amazing for your heart. It is beneficial in multiple different ways. To start off, we all know that a better blood pressure level and exercise are good for you heart, but there are other, more hidden, benefits to having sex. Sex is a great way to keep your estrogen and testosterone levels in balance. Either of the two levels getting too low is how one may end up with osteoporosis or even heart disease. “During one study, men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to die of heart disease as men who had sex rarely.” (web.md source.)

One great thing about sex is that it is an amazing pain killer that works much better than most over the counter medicines. A headache should never be an excuse to not have sex, as sex is often likely to be a cure to a headache. Orgasms tend to block out pain as they release a hormone that significantly raises your pain threshold.

In addition to all of these things, sex is a great way to both relieve stress. After an orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released. Prolactin is a hormone which is responsible for feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. In the case of stress reduction, any physical contact with someone else has been proven to relieve stress, whether it be an embrace or sex. Sex and intimacy can improve your self-esteem as well as happiness. So don’t feel like sex is a naughty and bad thing, because sex is good for you.