For those who don't have the time or money to visit the gym as much as they'd like, can less intense workouts bring stress relief? What about just a few minutes? How short of an exercise session can one practice and still enjoy stress relief benefits? These were all questions that came up for me.
And these questions were largely answered in a recent study I was pleased to come across. College students were exposed to stress, asked to perform a very short-duration workout, and measured for stress relief effects afterward. The results made me want to jump for joy--for about three minutes. Here are the specifics of the study:
- This quantitative and impirical study examined 102 male and female UCSD undergraduates who participated for course credit, and who completed a challenging math assignment and endured some harassment, and then either performed three minutes of cardiovascular exercise, or sat for three minutes, to measure the potential physiological effects of the exercise against a control group. Continuous blood pressure and heart rate monitoring was done throughout the study, and changes from an initial resting baseline were calculated. During the manipulation, blood pressure for exercisers was higher than for controls, but soon after the tasks were completed the participants who had exercised had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than those who had not exercised.
If this inspires you to get started with exercise, here are some resources to help you do so:
I used to think of exercise as something that needed to be practiced for at least 10 to 15 minutes before it made an impact. However, when I read the results of this research, I added 'exercise' to my short list of quick ways to relieve stress. Does it make you change the way you think about exercise? If so, how? Share your thoughts in the comments section, if you'd like, and feel free to visit the Facebook Page About Stress Management for more discussions and regular information on stress management.
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Chafin, Sky; Gerin, William. (Jan. 2008). Improving cardiovascular recovery from stress with brief poststress exercise. Health Psychology, 27(1, Suppl.), S64-S72.