Exercise has as many psychological benefits as it does physiological. Research has demonstrated that regular exercisers have lower perceived stress and better resistance to stress. A study of 48 women 25 to 40 years old found that a single session of aerobic exercise reduced the stress levels after a stressful event.
Regular exercise decreases the buildup of cortisol. A German study of cancer patients hospitalized for chemotherapy revealed that those who exercised for 30 minutes daily had significant improvement in several measures of psychological distress as compared to control group who didn’t exercise.
Exercise can help with the stress associated with menopause as well. A study in Thailand reported that postmenopausal women who completed a 12 week aerobic exercise program of 40 to 50 minutes twice a week had improved scores when tested for psychological stress.
Physical exercise helps stress by increasing the production of stress-reducing neurotransmitters. In an Australian study of 60 male university undergraduate students, 10 weeks of aerobic exercise resulted in healthier responses to acute mental stress compared with other students who did no exercise.
Exercise directly inhibits the stress response, particularly if the exercise is moderate to vigorous. Working out is one of the most effective ways to achieve stress relief and getting into better physical shape makes you feel better both mentally and physically.