Stress and Muscle Recovery Post Exercise

By Damian Cocciolone

We all know the adverse impact that stress can have on our mood, quality of life and markers of health like blood pressure and cortisol levels. Did you also know there is a well researched link between higher levels of stress and slower recovery following bouts of strenuous exercise!


The graph above (Stults-Kolehamainen et al, 2014) demonstrates how differing levels of ‘Perceived Stress’ impacted muscle recovery (measured by isometric muscle strength) following strenuous resistance training over a 96-hour period.


The same study demonstrated a similar response to ‘Life Stress’ as demonstrated above.

We can relate life stress to things such as our jobs, family situation, money stress etc. Which is different from ‘perceived stress’ which is is the feelings or thoughts that an individual has about how much stress they are under at a given point in time or over a given time period. 


A relevant consideration given the relatively high levels of life stress we are all experiencing during this Pandemic period. Strategies like mindfulness, meditation or seeking some external support can help to manage stress levels. This is turn can help improve your recovery from bouts of exercise and in turn your progress moving forward!



Stults-Kolehmainen, Matthew A.1,2; Bartholomew, John B.1; Sinha, Rajita2 Chronic Psychological Stress Impairs Recovery of Muscular Function and Somatic Sensations Over a 96-Hour Period, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: July 2014 – Volume 28 – Issue 7 – p 2007-2017