Can exercise be useful in the treatment of clinical manifestations of stress, depression or anxiety?

Yes, exercise can be useful in the treatment of clinical manifestations of stress, depression or anxiety. Exercise has been found to reduce symptoms associated with these mental health conditions such as low moods and negative thinking (Hagglof et al., 2020). It is known to be effective in increasing positive emotions and reducing overall levels of psychological distress (O’Connor & Hallam, 2017). Research indicates that physical activity has a direct impact on mental health and promotes both psychological well-being and resilience (Meeusen et al., 2018). By engaging in regular physical activity, individuals are able to increase their level of self-efficacy which contributes to improved psychological functioning (Biedert et al., 2019).

Exercise can positively influence the body’s response to stressful situations by helping individuals cope better with life events. Physically active people have been found to experience fewer feelings of helplessness when faced with difficult circumstances compared to those who do not engage in physical activity regularly (Werner & Steinberg, 2017). Furthermore, studies demonstrate that exercise increases the secretion of endorphins; these hormones are believed to help regulate emotions while providing short term relief from stress symptoms (Starr & Daviskas, 2015).

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