Exercise Strategies to Improve Stress

Feeling stressed? Get moving! 

What is stress? Stress is known as a state of disharmony or disruption of homeostasis in response to an actual or perceived threat. The body's autonomic nervous and endocrine systems respond to the stressor through a variety of mechanisms that put you in "fight-or-flight" mode. The release of stress hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol) are responsible for the physiological responses your body has when it encounters a threat or challenge. Your heart might start beating rapidly, your breathing my shorten, or your hands might start feeling sweaty. Normally, after the stressor is removed, you'll start to feel these symptoms go away - this is known as acute stress. However, chronic stress, can start to impact your physical and mental health as your body is in a constant "fight-or-flight" mode. So what can you do? MOVE.


Movement, whether aerobic exercise, resistance training, or lifestyle exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on relieving stress. Why? Because muscular movement works with your body's "fight-or-flight" response and provides a healthy output for the physiological responses to stress.


Endorphin Rush: Exercise bumps up the production of endorphins (your brain's happy neurotransmitters) which will leave you feeling that runner's high.


Calming Effect: Exercise can improve norephineprine and seratonin levels which affect mood and behaviors. Getting up and moving when you're feeling anxious and stressed can help calm you down after helping to improve sleep, anxiety, and depression.


Time-out: Studying all day? Taking breaks during your day to exercise (rather than mindlessly scroll through social media) can give your body a break from your stressor's.


Meditation in Motion: A game of tennis, a run through the park, or laps in the pool can help release the built up tension in your body from your daily stressors.


Medicine: Movement or physical activity can reduce the negative effects of stress such as poor sleep, poor immune, poor digestive, and poor cardiovascular functions. 


We always have time for a little movement. Ditch the phone and get moving!

Aerobic Exercise

Chase that runner's high! Getting in some type of aerobic exercise whether it's before you sit down to study, in-between, or after, will leave you feeling happy, energized, and motivated. Get outside to do your aerobic exercise for some fresh air and vitamin D!

  • Running
  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Stairs 
  • Hiking

Click on the link for some aerobic exercises you can do right at home!

Resistance Exercise

Feeling unmotivated or anxious? Resistance exercise is a great way to use your time-out session.

  • 2-3 days of resistance exercise at moderate intensity
  • Free weights
  • Resistance bands
  • Cable machines
  • Bodyweight

At home and need some ideas? Here are some exercises you can perform. Want to add some weight? Fill your backpack up with textbooks or other heavy objects and get to work! If you have access to a gym or standard weights, add them in for an extra challenge! 

Lifestyle Exercise

Take advantage of your every day activities to get more movement in!

  • Park farther away from where you're going
  • Walk instead of drive
  • Play with your dog or kids
  • Crank up the music and dance
  • Clean your space
  • Garden or yard work
  • Walk your dog
  • Rollerblade
  • Go for a bike ride