• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL
Help

Chapter 9. Exercise > The Benefits of Exercise

The Benefits of Exercise

Is there proof that exercise helps to cope with stress? Research clearly indicates that exercise is an effective stress reducer. Indeed, many studies have found that one of the most reliable differences between individuals with high and low levels of stress resistance was exercise and activity level (for example, see Brown, 1991; Kobasa,, Maddi, & Puccetti, 1982; and Roth & Holmes, 1987, just to name a few). In one study, McGilley and Holmes (1989), found that individuals who exercised regularly had lower cardiovascular and subjective responses to psychological stress than individuals who were not physically fit. Studies have also been done linking regular aerobic exercise to reductions in depression (McCann & Holmes, 1984), anxiety (Long, 1984), and improvements in self-esteem (Sonstroem, 1984). In addition, research has shown that exercise bolsters energy resources rather than consumes them. In a clever study carried on over a twelve-day period by Thayer (1987), subjects either ate a candy bar or took a ten-minute walk during the afternoon lull when people often feel tired. Those who ate the candy bars reported a short-lived boost of energy, but within an hour they were even more tired and tense. The walkers, on the other hand, felt increased energy and decreased tension for up to two hours after the walk. Furthermore, it is important to note that the amount and intensity of exercise necessary to produce stress-management effects need not be overly extensive.

Research suggests that regular exercise, even of only moderate intensity, provides a dress rehearsal for dealing with stress. Why is this the case? Because the way your body responds to exercise is very similar to the way your body reacts to stress. During exercise your heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, respiration quickens, stress hormones are released, and muscles tense to perform the activity. Does this sound familiar? Therefore, engaging in regular exercise gives your body practice in experiencing stress, allowing you to develop more strength and stamina to cope; therefore, your body can recover faster from stress. The theory of cross-reactivity postulates that regular exercise teaches your body how to recover more readily from emotional stress as well—that is, you become conditioned to handle stress more effectively due to repeated exposure to the stress of exercise.


PREVIEW

                                                                          

Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial


  
  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint