Depending on the intensity of exercise, it can increase or decrease cortisol.
Intense exercise increases cortisol shortly afterward but will decrease a few hours later. This short-term increase helps coordinate growth of the body to meet the challenge. Additionally, the size of the cortisol response lessens with routine training (19Trusted Source).
Regular exercise has been shown in numerous studies to help improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and improve overall health, which can help lower cortisol over time (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
Interestingly, regular exercise has also been associated with greater resilience to acute stress and may lower negative health effects associated with stress, such as high cortisol (20Trusted Source).
That said, overdoing it can have the opposite effect. Therefore, aim for around 150–200 minutes of mostly low- to moderate-intensity exercise each week and allow yourself time to rest between workouts.
SUMMARYExercising regularly can help you better manage stress and promote good health, which may help lower cortisol levels. That said, avoid overdoing it and aim for around 150–200 minutes of low- to moderate- intensity exercise each week.