Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fitness helps you cope with stress

Stress is a real problem for many of us. Work related stress, pressure that we put ourselves under, issues that come out of our personalities. There are a host of problems that cause us stress and a host of physiological responses. Malcolm Kendrick has written a book called The Great Cholesterol Con (not to be confused with the equally good book by Anthony Colpo with the same name

Both Colpo and Kendrick do a great job of debunking the junk science around the "cholesterol is bad and causes heart disease" dogma, but Kendrick's particular theory about heart disease is that much of it is related to stress. (To be fair Colpo talks about this too) It is worth reading this very funny and well written book to review some excellent science. The fine writer and blogger Michael Eades reviewed this book recently.

Some of Kendrick's essays are available for free here and are a very funny and rewarding read.

If stress is so bad, what can you do about it? The article below looks at the effect of aerobic fitness on stress responses at work. It indicates that being fitter reduces the physiological and subjective markers of stress...this may be a mechanism by which exercise really can prevent heart disease......So one strategy to diminish stress is to get your self fitter. And if you have been following this blog, the more effective way of increasing VO2 max is via high intensity interval training.

Effect of aerobic fitness on the physiological stress responses at work.

Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, 70211 Kuopio, Finland.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of aerobic fitness on physiological stress responses experienced by teachers during working hours.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-six healthy female and male teachers aged 33-62 years participated in the study. The ratings of perceived stress visual analogue scale (VAS), and the measurement of physiological responses (norepinephrine, epinephrine, cortisol, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, heart rate (HR), and trapezius muscle activity by electromyography (EMG), were determined. Predicted maximal oxygen uptake (VO(2)max) was measured using the submaximal bicycle ergometer test. The predicted VO(2)max was standardized for age using residuals of linear regression analyses.
RESULTS: Static EMG activity, HR and VAS were associated with aerobic fitness in teachers.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that a higher level of aerobic fitness may reduce muscle tension, HR and perceived work stress in teachers.

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