New Research Shows Workouts Boost Resilience

Intentional stress has an upside.

What’s happening: A new study revealed the impact of CrossFit and underwater training program Deep End Fitness on stress tolerance.

  • Both CrossFit and Deep End Fitness reduced psychological stress by ~24%.
  • CrossFit effectively lowered depression, while Deep End Fitness reduced anxiety.
  • Practicing breath holds and underwater immersion improved problem-based coping.

Developed by US military special operators, Deep End Fitness’s programs leverage breathwork for better top-down control and focus during high-stress “hunger for air” moments.

Researchers say the sense of belonging and community within both workouts also helped — affirming previous findings showing run clubs’ effectiveness as antidepressants.

Why it matters: 970M people are affected by mental health disorders worldwide, 87% of Gen Zers report mental well-being struggles, and severe stress is becoming the norm.

High-performing athletes aren’t immune, with up to 35% suffering from anxiety, depression, burnout, or disordered eating.

Reframing fitness as a tool for enhancing physiological and psychological stress response—as much as muscular strength—can support healthier outcomes.

Punchline: Stress is inescapable, but resilience may be trainable. By microdosing controlled challenges, we can build tolerance for tough times and perform better under pressure.

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