Moderate aerobic exercise may help attenuate negative emotions for participants initially experiencing regulatory difficulties. This study contributes to the literature on aerobic exercise’s therapeutic effects with experimental data, specifically in the realm of emotional processing.
Findings lend support to preliminary work suggesting that physical activity helps people weather emotional stress (Girodo & Pellegrini, 1976; Salmon, 2001). Acute aerobic exercise facilitated the down-regulation of negative emotions among participants initially struggling with this process on their own. These interaction effects are consistent with studies showing that regular sessions of aerobic exercise may protect against the onset, recurrence, or worsening of mood symptoms (e.g. Strawbridge et al., 2002). Indeed, clinical depression is often characterised by an inability to repair or regulate one’s mood once it has started to decline. This dysregulation and proneness to experiencing negative mood states are known to contribute to the onset and relapse of depression (e.g. Joormann & Vanderlind, 2014).
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