Physical Activity and Stress Reduction: A Review of Selected Literature

  • Marigold A. Edwards


According to Lazarus (1977) stress management can be directed to three levels. First is the external environment which one prepares to master, confront, avoid or flee from by using formal strategies such as time management, assertiveness and decision making as well as informal, essential strategies such as vacations and scheduling ‘R & R’ activities to reduce the internal costs of daily living. The second level is that of changing perception. As Selye (1974) said, “it’s not what happens to a man that counts, it’s how he takes it.” Perception determines whether the stress response is triggered or not. The third level is that of changing the sress response itself. The resultant response management directly reduces the sequelae of the stress response. This level provides the last possible opportunity for intervention.


Physical Activity State Anxiety Stress Reduction Moderate Exercise Exhaustive Exercise 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bahrke, MS., and Morgan, WP., 1978, Anxiety reduction following exercise and meditation., Cogn. Ther. Res., 2:323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benson, HD., Hartley, T., and Howard, L., 1978, Decreased V02 consumption during exercise with elicitation of the relaxation response., J. Hum. Stress, 4:38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartlett, RG ., 1956, Stress adaptation and inhibition of restraint induced (emotional) hypothermia, J. Appl. Physiol., 8:661.Google Scholar
  4. Birrell, P., and Roscoe, C., 1978, Effects of intensive aerobic exercise on stress reactivity and myocardial morphology in rats, Physiol. and Behav., 20: 687.Google Scholar
  5. Blumenthal, JA., Sanders, W., Williams, R., and Wallace, A., 1980, Effects of exercise on the Type A (coronary prone) behavior pattern, Psychosom. Med:, 42:289Google Scholar
  6. Byrd, OE ., 1963, A Survey of beliefs and practices on the relief of tension by moderate exercise, J. Sch. Health, 33:426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chesney, M. A., and Rosenman, R. H., 1980, Type A Behavior and the work setting, in: “Current Concerns in Occupational Stress,” C. L. Cooper and R. Payne, eds., Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Coben, JH., and Robertson, RJ., 1982, Effect of maximal voluntary exercise upon physiological response to stress, Med. Sci. Sorts, 14:166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davidson, R. J., and Schwartz, G. E., 1976, The psychobiology of relaxation and related states: a multi-process theory, in: “Behavior Control and Modification of Physiological Activity,” D. I. Mostofsky, ed., Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs.Google Scholar
  10. deVries, H. A., 1968, Immediate and long-term effects of exercise upon resting muscle action potential level, J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness, 8:1,Google Scholar
  11. de Vries, HA., and Adams, GM., 1972, Electromyographic comparison of single doses of exercise and meprobamate as to effects on muscular relaxation, Am. J. Phys. Med., 51:130.Google Scholar
  12. de Vries, HA ., 1981, Tranquilizer Effect on Exercise: A critical Review, Physic. Sports Med., 9:47Google Scholar
  13. de Vries, HA., Wiswell, RA., Bulbulian, R., and Moritani, T., 1981, Tranquilizer effect of exercise: acute effects of moderate aerobic exercise on spinal reflex activation level, Am. J. Pas Med., 60:57.Google Scholar
  14. de Vries, HA., Simard, CP., Wiswell, RA., Heckathorne, E., and Carabetta, V., 1982, Fusimotor System involvement in the tranquilizer effect of exercise, Am. J. Phys. Med., 61:111.Google Scholar
  15. Dienstbier, R. A., Crabbe, J., Johnson, G. O., Thorland, W., Jorgensen, J. A., Sader, M. M., and Lavelle, D. C., 1981, Exercise and stress tolerance, in: “Psychology of Running,” M. H. Sacks, and M. L. Sachs, eds., Human Kinetics, ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  16. Farrell, PA., Gates, WK., Maksud, MG., and Morgan, WP., 1982, Increases in plasma B-endorphin/B-lipotropin immunoreactivity after treadmill running in humans, J. Appl.. Physio., 52:1245.Google Scholar
  17. Frenkl, R., Csalay, L., and Csakvary, G., 1969, A study of the stress reaction elicited by muscular exertion in trained and untrained man and rats, Acta Physiol. Acad. Sci. Hung., 36:365.Google Scholar
  18. Frenkl, R ., 1971, Humororal mechanisms of ulcer-resistance of the organism adapted to physical exercise., Acta. Med. Acad. Sci. Hung, 28:66.Google Scholar
  19. Gal, R., and Lazarus, RS., 1975, The role of activity in anticipating and confronting stressful situations, J. Hun. Stress, 1:4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gantt, WH ., 1964, Autonomic conditioning, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci., 117:132ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gellhorn, E ., 1969, The consequences of the suppression of overt movements in emotional stress: a neurophysiological interpretation, Confin. Neurol., 31:289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gutin, B., and Di Gennaro, J., 1968, Effect of a treadmill run to exhaustion on performance of long addition, Res. Quart., 39:958.Google Scholar
  23. Haugen, G. B., Dixon, H. H., and Dickel, H. A., 1960, “A Therapy for Anxiety Tension Reactions,” MacMillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Johnston, IH., and Tharp, GD., 1974, The effect of chronic exercise on reserpine induced gastric ulceration in rats, Med. Sci. Sports, 6:188.Google Scholar
  25. Karvonen, M. J., 1959, Effects of vigorous exercise on the heart in: “Work and the Heart,” Rosenhaum and Belknap, eds., Hoeber Medical Books, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Khomulo, PS., Kadushkina, NN., and Zharova, IP., 1980, Effect of physical activity on blood lipids and adrenal function during emotional stress Biull Eksp. Biol. Med., 89:428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lazarus, R. S., 1977, Cognitive and coping processes in emotion, in: “Stress and Coping,” A. Monat, and R. S. Lazarus, eds., Columbia University, New York.Google Scholar
  28. Long, B. C., “A comparison of aerobic conditioning and stress inoculation as stress management interventions,” (pre-publication), University of British Columbia, VancouverGoogle Scholar
  29. Michael, ED ., 1957, Stress adaptation through exercise, Res. Quart., 28:50.Google Scholar
  30. Michaels, R. R., Huber, M. J., and McCann, D. S., 1976, Evaluation of Transcendental Meditation as a method of reducing stress, Science, 192: 1242.Google Scholar
  31. Mitchum, M. L., 1976, “The effect of participation in a physically exerting leisure activity on state anxiety level,” Master’s Thesis, Florida State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  32. Morgan, WP., Roberts, JA., Brand, FR., and Feinerman, AD., 1970, Psychological effect of chronic physical activity, Med. Sci. Sports, 2:213.Google Scholar
  33. Morgan, WP., Roberts, JA., and Feinerman, AD., 1971, Psychologic effect of acute physical activity, Arch. Phys. Med.. Rehab., 52:422.Google Scholar
  34. Morgan, WP., and Horstman, DJ., 1976, Anxiety reduction following acute physical activity, Med. Sci. Sports, 8:62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Morgan, WP., Horstman, DH., Cymerman, A., and Stokes, J., 1979, Use of exercise as a relaxation technique, J. S. Carolina M.A., 75:596Google Scholar
  36. Morgan, WP ., 1979, Anxiety reduction following acute physical activity., Psychiatr. Ann., 9:141.Google Scholar
  37. Morgan, WP ., 1982, Psychological effects of exercise, Behav. Med. Update, 4:25.Google Scholar
  38. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 1981, “Exercise and Your Heart,” Public Health Service, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  39. Oster, C ., 1979, Sensory Deprivation and Homeostasis,, J. Am. Geriatr. Soc., 27:364Google Scholar
  40. Pitts, F. N., and McClure, J. N., 1967, Lactate Metabolism in Anxiety Neurosis, New England Journal of Medicine, 277: 1329 – 1337.Google Scholar
  41. Schwartz, GE., Davidson, RJ., and Goleman, DJ., 1978, Patterning of cognitive and somatic processes in the self-regulation of anxiety: effects of meditation versus exercise, Psychosom. Med., 40:321.Google Scholar
  42. Schwartz, G. E., 1979, Disregulation and systems theory: a biobehav¬ioral framework for biofeedback and behavioral medicine in: “Biofeedback and Self-Regulation,” N. Birbaumer and Kimmel, eds., Erlbaum, Hillsdale.Google Scholar
  43. Schwartz, GE., Weinberger, DA., and Singer, JA., 1981, Cardiovascular differentation of happiness, sadness, anger, and fear following imagery and exercise Psychosom. Med., 43:343.Google Scholar
  44. Selye, H., 1956, The Stress of Life, McGraw Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  45. Selye, H., 1974, “Stress without Distress” J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  46. Sheehan, G., 1977, in: “Coping With Life on the Run” Sports Productions, Shiller.Google Scholar
  47. Sime, WE ., 1977, A comparison of exercise and meditation in reducing psychological response to stress, Med. Sci. Sports, 9:55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., and Lushene, R. E., 1970, “Manual for the State Trait Anxiety Inventory,” Consulting Psychologists Press, Palo Alto.Google Scholar
  49. Stoyva, J., 1976, Self-regulation and the stress-related disorders: A perspective on biofeedback, in: “Behavior Control” Mostofsky, ed., Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs.Google Scholar
  50. Tharp, GD., Buck, RJ., 1974, Adrenal adaptation to chronic exercise J. Appl. Physiol., 7:720Google Scholar
  51. Tharp, GD., Carson, WH., 1975, Emotionality changes in rats following chronic exercise, Med. Sci. Sports, 7:123Google Scholar
  52. Ulianinski, LS., Urmancheava, TG., Stepanian, EL., Fufacheva, AA., and Gritsak, AV., 1981, Effect of motor activity on the development of arrthythmia in experimental emotional stress, Kardiologiia,, 21:64.Google Scholar
  53. Von Euler, US ., 1974, Sympatho-adrenal activity in physical exercise, Med. Sci. Sports, 6:165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wood, D. T., 1977, The relationship between state anxiety and acute physical activity, Am. Corr. Ther. J., 31: 67.Google Scholar
  55. Weber, JC., and Lee, RA., 1966, Effects of differing prepuberty exercise programs on the emotionality of male albino rats, Res. Quart., 39:748.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marigold A. Edwards
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PittsburgPittsburgUSA

Personalised recommendations