Stress basics (9)
- Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior
- Chronic stress puts your health at risk
- How to be happy: Tips for cultivating contentment
- see all in Stress basics
Stress relief (23)
- Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke
- Spirituality and stress relief: Make the connection
- Need stress relief? Try the 4 A's
- see all in Stress relief
Relaxation techniques (10)
- Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits
- Yoga: Fight stress and find serenity
- Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress
- see all in Relaxation techniques
Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress
Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.By Mayo Clinic staff
You know that exercise does your body good, but you're too busy and stressed to fit it into your routine. Hold on a second — there's good news when it comes to exercise and stress.
Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you're not an athlete or even if you're downright out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.
Exercise and stress relief
Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.
- It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
- It's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
- It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.
(1 of 2)
- Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. 6th ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2009:512.
- Lehrer PM, et al. Principles and Practice of Stress Management. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: Guilford Press; 2007:333.
- Salmon P. Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: A unifying theory. Clinical Psychology Review. 2001;21:33.
- Strohle A. Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of Neural Transmission. 2009;116:777.
- Smith C, et al. A randomised comparative trial of yoga and relaxation to reduce stress and anxiety. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2007;15:77.
- Barbour K, et al. Exercise as a treatment for depression and other psychiatric disorders. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention. 2007;27:359.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed May 4, 2012.
- Writing SMART objectives. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/DHDSP/programs/nhdsp_program/evaluation_guides/smart_objectives.htm. Accessed May 4, 2012.
- Creagan ET (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 7, 2012.
- Physical activity for everyone: The benefits of physical activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/index.html. Accessed May 4, 2012.
- Thompson WR, et al. ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010:18.