How Exercise Reduces Stress and Anxiety


There is no drug in current or prospective use that holds as much promise for sustained health as a lifetime program of physical exerciseProf. Walter Bortz 

Stress can be relieved by regular physical activity whether through relaxing walk or brisk walking,bicycle racing or horse racing,swimming or dancing.

Regular exercise has been adopted by many people to lose weight,keep fit,look more attractive and feel healthier but exercise and stress management are so intertwined that clinical evidence in support of exercise as a veritable tool in relieving stress is so overwhelming to the point where exercise has been become a frequent prescription component for patients with Diabetes,high blood pressure,hypercholesterolaemia,depression,osteoporosis,anxiety disorder,cancer and even retroviral disease.

Exercise  and Stress Hormones

Exercise alters our biophysical profile in a battery of immense benefits both for the short and long terms.Research has shown that because of the impact of exercise on the body and mind, mood is a altered in a positive way.

According to Elizabeth Somer (author of Food and Mood),cortisol a potent brain chemical which plays a significant role in the aggregation of stress is lowered during exercise.Conversely,Serotonin,a brain neurochemical mood booster is aggregated during exercise.These endorphins in conjunction with catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline) boost alertness thereby elongating our duration of concentration. Norepinephrine is so significant in stress reduction because clinical evidence interestingly reveals that 50% of the brains supply is appropriated in the Locus coeruleus, a region of the brain specialized in linking emotional and stress responses together.

Major neurotransmitters that play directs roles in stress responses are thought to be modulated by the action of Norepinephrine which also highlights a strong suspicion in its high concentration in the presence of antidepressants.

Resilience to Stress

Research posits that a lower physiological reactivity to stress is enhanced by regular physical activity which means we are bettered equiped and our immunity is more capable of withstanding the impact of current stress and future stress.

Exercise produces a relaxation response,elevates the mood and keeps depression at bay.Some Clinical psychologists are less inclined to less anxiety and depression emanating from stress equals increased Norepinephrine but instead posit that exercise thwarts depression and anxiety by enhancing the body`s capacity and capability to stress response.Besides its immense benefits in mental effects of stress,exercise offers a veritable outlet for negative emotions like anger and irritability.

In a recent study,patients were subjected to a 4-month period of earobic exercise after which they were observed to have exhibited greater improvements in psychosocial functioning including less emotional distress and lower incidences of depression compared with case controls,hence correlating the strong link between stress,exercise and health.

Stress, Exercise and Health.

In a similar study in cardiovascular patients who received exercise or had stress management training,more than 25% in vascular endothelial function was noted in Ischaemic heart disease patients.

In a recent article by Hambrecht et al, patients awaiting coronary artety bypass graft surgery,improved endothelial function was also observed after 4 weeks of exercise and stress management training which was closely related to increased phosphorylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase.This is important because bioavailability of nitric oxide is necessary ingredient for flow-mediated dilatation of the vascular wall which then lowers blood pressure,facilitates an enhanced cardiac contractility to combact the effects of stress.

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Andrew Okpetu
Copyright of the article Stress Reduction and Exercise is owned by Dr Andrew Okpetu.Permission to republish Stress Reduction and Exercise must be obtained in writing.

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