Regular physical exercise/activity has been shown repeatedly to promote positive benefits in cognitive,
emotional and motor domains concomitant with reductions in distress and negative affect. It exerts a preventative role in
anxiety and depressive states and facilitates psychological well-being in both adolescents and adults. Not least, several
meta-analyses attest to improvements brought about by exercise. In the present treatise, the beneficial effects of exercise
upon cognitive, executive function and working memory, emotional, self-esteem and depressed mood, motivational,
anhedonia and psychomotor retardation, and somatic/physical, sleep disturbances and chronic aches and pains, categories
of depression are discussed. Concurrently, the amelioration of several biomarkers associated with depressive states:
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis homeostasis, anti-neurodegenerative effects, monoamine metabolism
regulation and neuroimmune functioning. The notion that physical exercise may function as “scaffolding” that buttresses
available network circuits, anti-inflammatory defences and neuroreparative processes, e.g. brain-derived neurotrophic
factor (BDNF), holds a certain appeal.
Keywords: Biomarkers, cognition, depression, emotion, exercise, HPA-axis, monoamines, motivation, neurodegeneration,
neuroimmune function, physical activity, somatic, symptoms.
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