336 Exercise & Stress

Research by Puterman, E., Weiss, J., Beauchamp, M., R., Mogle, J., & Almedia, D., M. (2017).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

Ask any runner. They will tell you that running makes them feel better. But can exercise really help you deal with stress?

Human Development Researchers were interested in the following questions:

—Is a stressful event experienced less negatively if you exercise regularly?

—Would negative affect be alleviated on days that individuals exercise?

—Is negative affect less if you exercise right before the stressor?

For eight evenings in a row, researchers measured over 2,000 participants’ daily stressors, activity per day, activity status and negative mood. They considered participants active if exercising for 170 minutes or more per week.

Results indicated that regular exercisers showed a 14% reduction in negative mood reactivity on days they encountered stress.  All participants’ negative mood reactivity was 17% lower on active compared to inactive days. Lastly, researchers found that inactive participants reported less negative mood in response to a stressful situation when they had exercised right before they experienced it.

Handle life’s ups and downs. If you want to react better to stress, exercising 20 minutes a day might be the key! Anticipating an upcoming stressful experience? Then, just plan to do some physical activity beforehand!  When we feel strong we can handle the world!


Puterman, E., Weiss, J., Beauchamp, M., R., Mogle, J., & Almedia, D., M. (2017). Physical activity and negative affective reactivity in daily life. Health Psychology, 36(12), 1186- 1194.

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