Predisposed stress head? There’s a workout for that.

A new study published in journal Frontiers in Psychology found that weight training improves how the heart responds to mental pressure.

“A lot of people do exercise in their free time for many reasons such as enjoyment, shape, figure and health. And yes, there is a lot of research supporting that regular exercise strengthens one’s health because it helps cope with stress,” the study’s lead author Peter Gröpel from the University of Vienna. “However, the vast majority of this research has been done with endurance training. We were just interested whether people who don’t like so much cardio (jogging, biking, etc.) but do resistance training instead (e.g., weight lifting may also benefit from it.” 

To find out, researchers asked 12 endurance-trained, 10 resistance-trained and 12 untrained men to participate in a series of stress-inducing scenarios to see the differences in their reactions. They found that the experiment worsened the mood of all three groups, as well as increased their cortisol and heart rate responses.

However, the untrained men showed a higher cardiovascular stress cardiovascular stress responsiveness in comparison to the others.

“Regular and long-term endurance and resistance trainings are related to the same cardiovascular benefits,” Gröpel told PsyPost. “We found that both endurance and resistance-trained men did not increase their heart rate as much as untrained men did when being under high stress.” 

Because of this, he says partaking in regular training is key – no matter what type as “it strengthens one’s heart and helps to cope with stress.”

Still, the study has its limitations.

“We only sampled healthy young men,” Gropel explains. “Replications with other samples would provide more insight into the influence of gender, age and clinical factors on exercise-related stress adaptations.”

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