Can Exercise Help Reduce Stress?

Can Exercise help Reduce Stress?

Stress can come in many shapes and forms and can affect both your physical and mental health. In an age where we are constantly busy with the hustle and bustle of life, you are bound to come across stress at least a couple of times in your lifetime. There are a ton of different ways to combat stress, one way which we will be discussing today is exercise.

Where does stress come from?

Before we get into how to combat stress, first let’s talk about where it comes from. Our bodies are constantly creating and releasing hormones, one of those hormones is called cortisol. Cortisol is the main stress hormone in the human body. Our brain is responsible for keeping all our hormone levels balanced and can release whichever hormone it thinks your body needs when levels are low. Cortisol is known to be released when your body feels like it is in “fight or flight” crisis mode. Today, our fight or flight mode is usually activated when we feel stress, either mental, or physical. When released, cortisol can have effects on your motivation, mood, sleeping schedule/cycle, fear, blood pressure and more.

What causes us to feel they symptoms of stress is when too much cortisol is released into our body. Our body doesn’t know the difference between stress coming from a physical or psychological place, which is why it is so easy now-a-days, for our cortisol levels to get too high and cause stress. These symptoms can come out in many physical or psychological ways, some physical effects include aches and pains such as headaches and backaches, or even jaw clenching, sweating, cramps, or dry mouth. Psychological or mental symptoms include over thinking, insomnia, and irritability.


Now I bet your thinking…?

What does exercise have to do with this?!

Any kind of physical activity is considered a physical stress on the body, and therefore, when you exercise, your body releases cortisol.

Wait a minute… didn’t you just talk about how cortisol can cause stress?!

Yes, BUT… exercise can actually help regulate the release of cortisol in your body!

Here’s how:

When we exercise, our body feels physical stress, and releases cortisol which causes us to get symptoms of stress. When we exercise regularly, our bodies start to become accustomed to the physical stress, therefore, our brains naturally will slowly begin to DECREASE the amount of cortisol it releases into the body! The best part about this is that the decrease stress doesn’t only apply to exercising!

How is that?!

Well let’s go back to what we said earlier, about how your brain doesn’t know the difference between physical or psychological stress. Due to this fact, now when you face issues or situations in any area of your life that would cause you physical or psychological stress, your body will release LESS cortisol! Therefore exercise can help reduce your stress levels in all areas of life!

The is one thing you need to watch out for…

And that is OVER exerting yourself during exercising! Since exercising does cause the release of cortisol, if we workout longer or harder then our body can handle, it can cause us to feel stressed as our body will release too much cortisol.

How can we combat this?!

The best thing to do is LISTEN to your body! If you are feeling super fatigue and need to rest, then rest! Even if you are an avid gym enthusiast and workout on a regular basis, you still have the ability to over exert yourself and cause stress. Another great tip is to follow a fitness schedule that requires you to workout for less time! The longer you workout, the more likely you are to over work your body.

To answer the main question, YES exercise can definitely help combat stress when following a healthy, routine based fitness regime! Don’t know where to start?! LEANSQUAD’s custom fitness and nutrition plans can help you get into a fitness routine that is sustainable for you and your lifestyle! For more information email us at!

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