Exercise: A Healthy Stress Reliever

Exercise: A healthy stress reliever

When it comes to good health, physical activity matters. Exercise and physical activity improve overall fitness, body mass index, and cardiovascular and muscular health.1 Studies even show exercise can relieve stress, reduce depression and improve cognitive function.2,3,4

Although many respondents to the Stress in America™ survey report that they experience positive benefits from exercise, such as feeling good about themselves, being in a good mood and feeling less stressed, few say they make the time to exercise every day. In fact, the survey found that more than one-third of adults (37 percent) report exercising less than once a week or not at all.

Like adults, teens also report benefits from exercise.

Only 17 percent of adults report exercising daily.

Fifty-three percent of adults say they feel good about themselves after exercising, 35 percent say it puts them in a good mood and 30 percent say they feel less stressed.

Fewer than half (43 percent) of adults say they exercise to manage stress and 39 percent say they have skipped exercise or physical activity in the past month when they were feeling stressed.

Sixty-two percent of adults who say they exercise or walk to help manage stress say the technique is very or extremely effective. Forty-three percent of adults who report exercising specifically to help manage stress say they skipped exercise or physical activity in the past month when they were stressed.

Half of adults (50 percent) say that being physically active or fit is extremely or very important to them, yet only 27 percent report doing an excellent or very good job of achieving this.

Like adults, teens also report benefits from exercise, but face challenges when it comes to being physically active or fit.

Fifty-three percent of teens say they feel good about themselves after exercising, 40 percent say it puts them in a good mood and 32 percent say they feel less stressed after exercising. Regardless, one in five teens (20 percent) report exercising less than once a week or not at all.

Thirty-seven percent of teens say they exercise specifically to manage stress.

Sixty-eight percent of teens who say they exercise or walk to help manage stress say the technique is very or extremely effective.

Twenty-eight percent of teens skipped exercise or physical activity in the past month when they were feeling stressed and 37 percent of teens who report using exercise to manage stress say they skipped exercise or physical activity in the past month when they were stressed.

The majority of teens (62 percent) say that being physically active or fit is extremely or very important to them, yet only 51 percent report doing an excellent or very good job at achieving this.

Despite the value that Millennials appear to place on being physically active or fit, they are not doing well at achieving this goal.Millennials are more likely than other generations to say they exercise weekly and recognize the positive benefits of doing so.5 Despite this, many Millennials still report skipping exercise because of stress.

Seventy-two percent of Millennials say they exercise once a week or more, compared with 59 percent of Gen Xers and Boomers and 56 percent of Matures.

Millennials are also more likely to report feeling less stressed after exercise (36 percent vs. 31 percent of Gen Xers, 28 percent of Boomers and 16 percent of Matures) and to say they exercise or walk to manage stress (50 percent vs. 44 percent of Gen Xers, 40 percent of Boomers and just 36 percent of Matures).

However, Millennials are more likely to say that they have skipped exercise or physical activity in the past month when stressed (52 percent vs. 41 percent of Gen Xers, 33 percent of Boomers and 18 percent of Matures).

Despite the value that Millennials appear to place on being physically active or fit, they are not doing well at achieving this goal: 53 percent say it is very or extremely important to them, yet only 29 percent say they are doing an excellent or very good job at it. Comparatively, 53 percent of Matures, 48 percent of Gen Xers and 46 percent of Boomers say being physically active or fit is very or extremely important to them, yet only 30 percent, 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively, say they are doing an excellent or very good job at it.

Eighty-three percent of Millennials say they have tried to exercise more in the past five years, compared with 66 percent of Gen Xers, 63 percent of Boomers and 60 percent of Matures.

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