Exercise is an effective stress reduction activity, yet less than half of Canadians do

Exercise is an effective stress reduction activity, yet less than half of Canadians exercise to reduce stress

Exercise is an effective stress reduction activity. Yet, a recent research study out of McMaster University found that only 40 percent of Canadians exercise to reduce stress.

The researchers analyzed Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey data of nearly 40,000 Canadians 15 years of age and older. Of the thirteen coping strategies polled, exercise ranked as number eight. Researchers found people were more likely to cope with stress by problem-solving; looking on the bright side, trying to relax, talking to others, blaming oneself, ignoring stress, or praying, rather than exercising.

“We know stress levels are high among Canadians, and that exercise is effective at managing stress and improving health and well-being, so the fact exercise is number eight and that less than half of the population use it is worrisome,” said John Cairney, professor of family medicine, and psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences, at McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

The study also found that younger, single, more educated and more active adults as well as women were more likely to use exercise to manage stress. Moreover, those who reported using exercise to reduce stress were more likely to endorse other positive coping strategies and less likely to use alcohol or drugs for coping.

“Exercise as a coping strategy for stress can be a ‘win-win’ situation because there are both mental and physical health benefits,” said Cairney.

The study was published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.