Physical Activity, Stress Reduction, and Mood: Insight into Immunological Mechanisms

  • Mark HamerEmail author
  • Romano Endrighi
  • Lydia Poole
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 934)


Psychosocial factors, such as chronic mental stress and mood, are recognized as an important predictor of longevity and wellbeing. In particular, depression is independently associated with cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, and is often comorbid with chronic diseases that can worsen their associated health outcomes. Regular exercise is thought to be associated with stress reduction and better mood, which may partly mediate associations between depression, stress, and health outcomes. The underlying mechanisms for the positive effects of exercise on wellbeing remain poorly understood. In this overview we examine epidemiological evidence for an association between physical activity and mental health. We then describe the exercise withdrawal paradigm as an experimental protocol to study mechanisms linking exercise, mood, and stress. In particular we will discuss the potential role of the inflammatory response as a central mechanism.

Key words

Exercise withdrawal Mental stress Mood Physical activity Inflammation Psychophysiology Wellbeing 



The authors are supported by grant funding from the British Heart Foundation (UK).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychobiology Group, Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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