Chronic stress and depression are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and poorer prognosis, and physical (in)activity may be a key underlying biobehavioral mechanism. Physical activity has antidepressant effects, and physically fitter, more active individuals seem to be more biologically resilient to psychosocial stressors. This article will present data from a series of population cohort studies and laboratory-based psychophysiological studies to explore the role of physical activity as a protective factor against the effects of psychosocial stress on cardiovascular disease. These mechanisms may improve the treatment and prevention of stress-related illnesses and, thus, has important implications for public health and clinical care of high-risk patients.
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