Why It's Even More Important to Exercise When You're Stressed and Don't Feel Like It

It's not just guilt that comes with skipping workouts, a new study suggests.

We've all been there: Things start to get a little crazy at work, you start to go a little crazy in life, and your fitness routine falls by the wayside. Because after a long, hectic day on the job, kicking back with Netflix and a glass of wine sounds much more manageable than hitting the gym or pounding the pavement. Obviously.

But you might want to pause Gilmore Girls, put down the vino (we're so sorry), and pull on your sneakers, because how fit you are might have a lot more to do with how your body handles chronic stress than you think, according to a November 2016 study.

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To identify possible links between fitness, health, and stress, researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden measured and analyzed the fitness levels (via a bicycling test), cardiovascular risk factors (including blood pressure, BMI, and cholesterol), and self-reported stress levels of nearly 200 working people.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that the participants who reported high stress levels also had higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels than participants who reported less stress. What was surprising, however, was that the participants who were stressed and physically fit had lower blood pressure and cholesterol than the participants who were stressed and not physically fit. This suggests that staying fit (read: not skipping workouts) is connected to better health when work is stressing you out.

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While this study only shows a link between better fitness and health during times of stress (rather than a protective or canceling-out effect), it's still a great incentive to try and squeeze in a workout this evening — or tomorrow morning if a.m. workouts are more your style. Don't feel like you have the time or energy to put into a good, long sweat sesh? Have no fear: Studies suggest that HIIT workouts (aka high-intensity interval workouts, which can be completed in a much shorter period of time) are just as effective. #Winning.

[h/t Science of Us]

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