Stressed about exams or deadlines? Exercise may help more than you think!


When we get stressed out, it can be easy to let exercise & physical activity fall by the wayside. Even though we know that exercise is great for us, and has more benefits than we could ever list – it takes a lot of effort, and we may not feel so inclined to get up and go to the gym around, say, final exams or deadlines.

However, a new study out of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany provides some convincing evidence that exercise really can help reduce exam-related stress. In the study, the researchers recruited 61 undergraduate students and randomly assigned them to participate in a 20-week exercise program that was timed to finish right around students’ final exams. The outcome variable examined in the study was heart rate variability (HRV), which is a measure of the small variations in time between heartbeats. According to Dr. Richard Sloan, a professor at Columbia University in New York, “the heart is happiest when it’s good to have a lot of heart rate variability.” As predicted, the researchers found that students who participated in the exercise program had HRV patterns indicative of lower stress levels than those of students who were not in the exercise program.

The study is closely related to research by DiSH collaborator Eli Puterman, whose lab at the University of British Columbia studies fitness, aging, and stress. In regards to this new study out of Germany, Dr. Puterman commented that “it’s really exciting to see an intervention that changes the physiological response to stress.”

We agree with Dr. Puterman – these results are very compelling! Exercise has so many benefits for health & well-being, we’re happy to see real-world evidence that it can help us control our physiological responses to stress.

 Check out the original article here!