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Jan 23rd 2024

Become Stress-Resistant with Exercise


Let’s face it. Even when the stress of the holidays end, stress continues to be a major aspect of modern life at any time of the year, and those who learn to deal with stress effectively enjoy a huge advantage. Developing resilience and stress-resistance, although no small feat, is possible by taking a pro-active approach to cultivating physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

A program of regular exercise is central to such an approach. Unfortunately, committing to regular exercise is challenging, and only a minority sticks with it over time. Maybe looking at the ways that exercise promotes stress-resistance will strengthen your resolve to begin a program of regular exercise or stick with one you’ve already begun.

According to Timothy Church, exercise researcher and professor of preventive medicine at Louisiana State University, when you exercise, your nervous system makes a shift from the sympathetic mode (the stressful mode) to the parasympathetic mode (the restful mode). This leads to feeling calmer and more in control throughout the day, and it’s why people who are physically active have lower heart rates.

Jade and Keoni Teta, naturopaths who write a regular column on exercise for the Townsend Letter, say that exercise acts like a tune-up to the hormonal stress network, balancing hormones and eliciting repair hormones that make the body stronger and leaner. Properly done exercise, which they emphasize must be vigorous but not exhausting, “re-sets” the body to a balanced condition that is able to absorb new stress more efficiently and easily.

Stress & Anxiety

Studies show that exercise favorably alters neurotransmitters controlling stress and anxiety. It remodels the brain, changing the way it works, and even stimulates the creation of new brain cells that are more resistant to stress than the old. According to a 2010 study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, exercise may even reverse the effects on the brain caused by psychological trauma early in life.

Exercise also reduces stress by improving sleep quality. It may also reduce your stress level to know that when you exercise regularly you lower your risk of: early death, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, endometrial cancer, obesity, falls, depression, age-related cognitive decline, hip fracture, and osteoporosis.

Exercise is like an essential nutrient that we must have to be healthy. So don’t suffer from exercise-deficiency! Find something you enjoy and make time to do it on a regular basis.

Liebman B.  It's your move:  no more excuses:  an interview with Timothy Church.  Nutrition Action Newsletter.  December 2012, pp. 3-6. 
Teta J and Teta K.  The impact of lifestyle choices and hormonal balance on coping with stress.  Townsend Letter.  December 2005, pp. 89-91. 
Reynolds G.  Why exercise makes you less anxious.  New York Times Blog.  November 18, 2009. 
Maniam J.  Voluntary exercise and palatable high-fat diet both improve behavioral profile and stress responses in male rats exposed to early life stress:  role of hippocampus. Psychoneuroendocrinology.  November 2010,; 35(10):1553-1564. 




Information contained in NewsClips articles should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.