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Getting in Shape Protects You From Stress

It’s well known that stress has a harmful effect on the body, but a new study found that people who are physically fit may be able to protect themselves from some of these damaging effects.

When stressed, adults typically produce two chemicals -- interleukin-6, or IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, or TNF -- that are known to raise the risk of heart disease and inflammation. However, the study found that fit adults who are stressed produce far less of these two chemicals than unfit adults.

The end result is that stress likely has a greater damaging effect on the hearts of unfit adults than the hearts of those who are in shape. A past study also found similar results: women who were physically fit were able to ward off the effect of stress on their body, which gave them better protection against developing high blood pressure.

Along with protecting your heart, exercise is known to lower cholesterol, help you lose weight and reduce the risk of diseases (like diabetes). Plus, exercise is a great stress reliever.

If you haven’t yet started an exercise program, this is all the more reason to start.

USA Today March 7, 2007