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How Stress Affects Physical Health

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How to relieve stress physically & How Stress Affects Physical Health People are increasingly facing more stress since the Human-Being society became developed and complicated, by ignoring the physical influence to our body, Human’s health suffered considerably from stress. Many people was suggested to solve the stress problem by using psychological approaches, however, the research in recent decades has identified a significant awareness gap between the benefits of physical activities and stress relief. The following paper is aiming at exploring how stress affects physical health and how to relieve stress physically. Stress was defined by Selye as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand” (Christopher, 1996), the development of society and economic has significant boost the function of brain, and human’s psychological need. Based on the Maslow need hierarchy theory (Lutz,2010), when the individual’s basic needs ( water, food, safety…etc) are satisfied, it will seeks for higher needs from mental dimensions such as belonging, self-esteem, love and being-love, and self-actualization. The failing of meeting these needs would the driver of stress generating, it is suggested that the stress mainly come from working place, love relationship and the relationship between family members.

Having realized the truth of ‘stress are universally exists and will continue to grow as a major part in the daily life’, it is essential to explore the negative physically impact stress might bring about. It is believed that the relationship between stress and physical health could be considered as ‘fight-or-flight response’, our body would produce Cortisol and other Glucocorticoid hormones for the preparation of an emergency situation. The release of these hormones may negatively influence physical health. As stress grow intense enough or repeated frequently enough, the influence could become worse and discombobulate the Cortisol production system and physiological processes (Boardman, 2004). This allostatic load might have deleterious associations with heart rate, cardiovascular, blood pressure, breathing rate, metabolic, immune systems, tensing of the muscles, brain activity and central nervous system functioning. As a result, these biological changes would lead to headaches, heart attacks, weakened immunity and even other deadly symptoms.

For example, university students who studying for final exams are more susceptible to respiratory infections since the stress lead to decrease of the production of certain agents needed to prevent the illness (Cherry, 2012). Having recognized a series negative impact of stress, people have sought the solutions for the dilemma, many was suggested to reduce the social-related activities that could cause stress such as working, business party and dating, others was advised to go to psychological clinic. However, due to the fast development of human-civilization, the growing of stress is inevitable and may not be effectively solved by external force. It is advocated that the most effective way maybe ‘solve the problem internally by own body’ rather than stop working. At this point, it is increasingly believed that physical exercise would be an effective approach to relieve pressure and improve health condition. It is usually regard exercise as an approach to control weight and get in better physical condition to become healthier or physically attractive, evidence showed that exercise or other physical activities could also contribute to stress relief.

As a result, physical activity and low stress lead to better physical health and hence could achieve Win-Win situation. Specifically, it is suggested that physical activities could relieve stress from four aspects. Firstly, it could reduce the stress hormones mentioned above such as Cortisol, and increase endorphins. The endorphins were considered as ‘feel-good’ chemicals to body and may eliminate unhappy mood and stress as it growing. Secondly, physical exercise could divert individual’s attention from stress affairs to the activity at hand. It also involves a change of scenery, unlike those high-stress places such as working place, exercise usually taken place in low-stress place such as GYM, mountain, beach and park, which could significantly balance the stress perception. Thirdly, physical exercise itself could re-shape our body, make body stronger and looks healthier. It hence can improve individual’s attractiveness and confidence and hence can enable a positive life attitude. Fourthly, since the physical exercise normally would enable individual to interact with others, socialising with participants and friends in a such low-stress way might meet human’s belonging needs.

It therefore could make people have a good mood and recharge themselves to fight against stress (Elizabeth, 2011). Despite a great number of physical activities benefits in stress relief, it is difficult to implement it in an effective way. Firstly, the stress relief effect of a certain type of physical exercise may vary based on individual’s differences. The body may react differently in different age group, gender, income level, culture, education level and other segments parameter. Secondly, the lack of consistency makes the effect difficult to be maintained and the stress hence may rebound quickly. Therefore, the physical exercises need to be tailored regard to the different stressor. For example, high-energy and competitive type of exercise would be suitable for those who cannot directly express their anger emotion to colleagues and managers, they could turn the anger into the motivation of conducting exercise; low-energy and relax type of activities such as dancing and walking might fit those who suffer from heavy workload, they could enjoy a peaceful and harmony atmosphere which shall reduce stress level;

And for those who feel isolated and solitude, the point may not be the way of exercise, but is making them to join friends, make fun with them and feel belonging. On the other hands, it is suggested that aerobic exercise is positively related to stress relief when performed at the individual’s habitual level, whereas strenuous exercise tends to improves mood in regular exercisers but will lead to worsen mood in non-exercisers (Salmon, 2001). It is addressed that in order to relieve stress physically, individual may experience many times of trial before discovering its own appropriate ways to conduct physical activities. In summary, stress is regarded as the inevitable cost of the evolution of human race, it can lower down our immune system and cause a number of serious physical health issues, while illness could lead to worsen stress and hence will become a vicious cycle. Physical activity is an effective, low cost and environment friendly way to relieve stress they face. To effectively relieve stress and maximize the effect, our body require consistent support from physical activity, and it needs to be customized based on the different attributes in diverse segments in the society.


Boardman,J.D. (2004). Stress and physical health: the role of neighborhoods as mediating and moderating mechanisms. Social Science & Medicine . 58, p2473-2483. Cherry,K.. (2012). How Stress Affects Physical Health. Retrieved April 05,2012, from: http://www.netplaces.com/psychology/stress-coping-and-health/how-stress-affects-physical-health.htm Christopher,S.F.,Roisin,R.,Alicia,A.,Jagdish,K.D..

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