You’ve heard about the benefits of exercise, like boosting your immune system, reducing stress, and even boosting your metabolism.
But is there any research backing them up?
A new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology finds that exercise actually decreases stress levels.
In fact, the authors found that exercise has a calming effect that can help people with physical or mental health issues feel better.
It also helps improve their moods, which can help them manage their symptoms.
“We were really interested in how exercise affects stress, because this is an area where we’re already doing pretty good research,” says Dr. Elizabeth J. Davidson, the study’s lead author.
“In fact, I think the findings from the study are so robust that it’s pretty hard to dismiss it.”
Exercise can be a great way to boost your immune systems, reduce stress, or increase your metabolism, but it can also be an overwhelming chore for some people.
This study shows that exercise can reduce stress levels, but can also increase your mood.
“Our findings show that exercise helps improve mood, which in turn can help you feel better,” says Davidson.
In the study, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recruited participants through a job fair and asked them to do four sets of six repetitions of a strength-training exercise.
The first exercise was a single set of leg extensions followed by a two-minute warmup.
The second exercise was five reps of lunges, followed by another two-min warmup, and so on.
Participants then did four sets per day of either a three-minute weight-training session or a 10-minute cardio session.
The participants were asked to report their stress levels and how much stress they felt during each workout session.
“The researchers were interested in whether exercise actually helped people with psychological disorders,” Davidson says.
“They wanted to know whether exercise might help with the symptoms of mental disorders like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a major factor for depression.”
The researchers found that those who completed the exercises felt better after completing them, compared to those who did not.
Davidson says the results are promising.
“I think this is one of the first studies that really looks at how exercise may be able to have an impact on mental health,” she says.
In other words, exercise can help with stress, but you may not feel the same way after you do it.
“This study suggests that exercise is actually one of many factors that help people recover,” Davidson concludes.
“It’s really exciting that we’ve found that physical activity can be effective at lowering stress levels.”
Read more about how exercise can improve your mental health.