Strength training is the perfect way to counter the physiologic chronic stress response caused by life because it elevates the body’s natural anti-stress system. It also improves energy use, builds muscle, and makes us feel good. It’s also a great way to socialize, although don’t let that get in the way of training!
Another great thing about strength training for stress management is that it lets us get rid of our aggressions, work through problems in our head, while enhancing our body’s antioxidant system. This is critical to managing psychological and physical stress because it is this system, which centers around the activity of a molecule called glutathione, that will get rid of the negative factors produced inside our body when we are stressed out that cause damage to cells. Glutathione protects us from the ill effects of everything from inflammatory factors caused by lack of sleep, to those produced by excess cortisol, or insulin.
For example, one recent study compared a hypertrophy-type with a strength-type training protocol in men for six weeks, and found that resting levels of glutathione were much higher in participants at the end of the study than at baseline. Markers of inflammation were lower at the end of the study. Both protocols were equally effectively at elevating glutathione, and decreasing the physiological evidence of chronic stress in participants.