Physical inactivity and psychosocial stress are prevalent in residents of the United States. The purpose of this article is to review the interaction between these 2 conditions and examine the effects of exercise on stress and cardiovascular (CV) health. A query of scientific references between 1974 to 2018 was performed using the PubMed search engine accessing the MEDLINE database using the search terms psychosocial stress, CV disease (CVD), physical activity, exercise, cardiac rehabilitation, and team sports. Psychosocial stress is a strong independent risk factor for adverse CV events. Conversely, people who experience CV events subsequently have drastically elevated rates of new-onset mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Psychosocial stress and CVD often trigger self-reinforcing feedback loops that can worsen mental health and cardiac prognosis. Exercise predictably improves CV health and prognosis and also is effective at lowering levels of psychosocial stress. Group exercise in particular seems to provide social support while at the same time boosting fitness levels and, thus, may be the single most important intervention for patients with concomitant CVD and emotional stress. Collaborative physical activity, such as group exercise, team sports, interactive physical play, and cardiac rehabilitation programs, have the potential to improve mental health and CV prognosis.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.