Regular exercise 'best for mental health'

12 August, 2018, 21:12 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Exercise can substantially improve mental health • Earth.com

According to the results of the study, people who exercise report experiencing 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health per month, compared to people who do not exercise.

All types of exercise were found to have a benefit, but the biggest effect was found from popular team sports, cycling, and aerobic or gym activities.

75 types of exercises were reported which were all associated with improved mental health.

Dr Dean Burnett, neuroscientist and honorary research associate, from the school of psychology at Cardiff University, said the link between exercise and mental health had been hard to pin down but this large study "strongly suggests that there is a definite association between the two". "Exercise is associated with a lower mental health burden across people no matter their age, race, gender, household income and education level".


"I would summarise the results as indicating that activity is good for mental health - but that one can do too much", said Professor Stephen Lawrie, head of psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh. "We are now using this to try and personalise exercise recommendations, and match people with a specific exercise regime that helps improve their mental health". Exercise was not always beneficial as exercising for more than 3 hours a day was associated with increased risk of poor mental health; and was noted that people who exercise excessively may have obsessive tendencies that may increase risks.

The study, published Wednesday in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, analyzed responses from a large sample of 1.2 million American adults who participated in a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Depression was the only mental health taken into account during the study. Exercising on more than 23 days a month and in sessions lasting 90 minutes or more were actually associated with worse mental health. Participants reported how many days they classed their mental health as not good, and how often they performed exercises outside of work.

The research included data from 1.2 million people across the US who estimated how often in the past 30 days they would rate their mental health as "not good" based on stress, depression and emotional problems. These activities can lower mental health burdens by 20 to 22 percent.

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