Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.
It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress.
The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don't exercise (1).
There are a few reasons behind this:
Stress hormones: Exercise lowers your body's stress hormones — such as cortisol — in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
Sleep: Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.
Confidence: When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.