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Good fitness is not important in acute stress response

When individuals are exposed to acute psychosocial stress, this does not seem to play a role in how the body responds physiologically, ie how different hormone levels change, as well as changes in pulse and blood pressure. Among other things, the stress hormone cortisol seems to work even in untrained individuals.

The fact that good fitness is beneficial is the few who doubt it. But can fitness affect all physiological mechanisms? The work is based on tests where about 100 healthy but untrained individuals aged 20 and 50 have undergone a physical stress test in the form of a maximum fitness test cycle, as well as a psychosocial stress test to study how the body responds to acute stress. ,

Several tests have been carried out in connection with the tests to monitor how the levels of, inter alia, the stress hormone cortisol, pulse and blood pressure have changed.

How to respond to acute stress

– There are great differences in how different individuals respond to acute stress, but there is no clear correlation between fitness levels and responses to psychosocial stress test. There was no connection between how the stress test was experienced and how strong the physiological response was, says Elin Arvidson, University of Gothenburg, who worked on it.

However, there was a correlation between the response to physical and psychosocial stress, that is, participants who received high levels of, inter alia, cortisol in the physical test also received high levels in the psychosocial test.

Half of the participants were subjected to physical education after initial tests, three times a week for half a year, while the other half continued as before. The two groups then had to perform the tests again. All participants received a reduced response to a psychosocial test, ie, lower stress hormone levels, pulse and blood pressure, whether or not they were taught. Most likely, there was an addiction to the test itself, which also shows the body's ability to adapt the response to the prevailing situation.

Acute stress is not affected by physical exercise

The results of the work are important for ongoing stress research.

– Physical exercise has previously been shown to have significant preventive effects on stress-related mental illness, but the mechanism does not seem to be associated with an acute stress response, at least not for healthy individuals. Perhaps it is time to shift the view from stress hormones to other aspects in order to identify the mechanisms of physical exercise effects on stress-related diseases, ”says Arvidson.

At work:
Physiological Reactions to Acute Physical and Psychosocial Stress – Relationship to Aerobic Capacity and Exercise at the Department of Nutrition and Sports Science

Elin Arvidson,

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