Improving Cardiovascular Recovery From Stress With Brief Poststress Exercise

Sky Chafin, Nicholas Christenfeld, William Gerin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: While exercising before a stressor has been shown to limit the magnitude of stress responses, we test the use of exercise as a coping mechanism after the stressor, to limit the duration of the stress response. Design: After doing difficult mental arithmetic with harassment, male and female undergraduates (N = 102) either walked in place or sat still for 3 minutes, then all sat for a recovery period. Main Outcome Measures: Continuous blood pressure and heart rate monitoring was done throughout. Changes from an initial resting baseline were calculated. Results: During the manipulation, blood pressure for exercisers was higher than for controls, but soon after the tasks were completed the participants who had exercised had significantly lower systolic (SBP; M = 3.5 mmHg above prestress baseline, p < .01) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP; M = 0.3 mmHg above prestress baseline, p < .001) than those who had not exercised (SBP: M = 8.8 mmHg, DBP: M = 4.8 mmHg). Conclusion: Although exercising when angry adds to initial cardiovascular arousal, it improves recovery afterward. We discuss possible mechanisms for this effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S64-S72
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Jan 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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