Background: Exercise has been shown to have stress-reducing effects. Exercise is a non-invasive, relatively inexpensive activity, warranting further investigation as a protective influence against stress in older adults. Methods: A systematic review was conducted, searching electronic databases PubMed, Web of Science, PsycInfo, and SportDiscus from inception to February 2021. Randomized controlled trials investigating exercise interventions for stress in adults aged 50+ were included in this review. Data on type, intensity, and duration of the intervention were also extracted. Results: 854 studies were identified by the search strategy. Twelve randomized controlled trials met inclusion criteria. Trials involving low-intensity qigong and trials combining aerobic and anaerobic or aerobic and nutrition education showed the strongest evidence of stress reduction. Discussion: Exercise may reduce stress in older adults. Suitable duration of program ranges from 3 months to 1 year. Light to moderate activity is recommended for best results, with qigong the most consistent and common exercise.
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Thesis advisor: Cosco, Theodore
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