Take it easy to be happy (gym) bunny

Desiree Burns
August 11, 2018

Among the 75 types of exercise recorded, all types were linked with better mental health.

Chekroud suggests that the reason too much exercise may be less beneficial to mental health is based on an assumption that those who exercised excessively were potentially suffering from more than mild mental health issues.

Plenty of research has shown how cardio is the closest thing to a miracle drug we have for improving our health and mood.

"However, the nature of the study means it's hard to say more than that with any real certainty", he said. "It seems like some of the benefits are pretty in reach for most people".

A new study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, supports this theory. Of those surveyed, people who engaged in moderate amounts of exercise fared better, mentally, than those who engaged in "marathon" or prolonged exercise sessions.

According to Time, the study "analyzed data provided by more than 1.2 million USA adults who responded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey between 2011 and 2015".

If you have a mental health problem there are bigger benefits, because stress can be a trigger for other conditions.

Results showed that on average, participants experienced 3.4 days of poor mental health every month.

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The study of 1.2 million Americans found those who exercised had one-and-a-half fewer days of poor mental health a month than those who shunned exercise.

Previous research into the effects of exercise on mental health have thrown up mixed results, and some studies suggest that lack of activity could lead to poor mental health as well as being a symptom of it.

Dr Adam Chekroud, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale, said: 'Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and there is an urgent need to find ways to improve mental health through health campaigns.

The reduction in number of poor mental health days was larger for people who had previously been diagnosed with depression, where exercise was associated with 3.75 fewer days of poor mental health compared with people who did not exercise - equivalent to a 34.5 per cent reduction. "Excitingly, the specifics of the regimen - like the type, duration and frequency - played an important role in this association".

Among people who had been diagnosed previously with depression, exercise appeared to have a larger effect, resulting in seven days of poor mental health a month compared with almost 11 days for those who did no exercise.

People who were active three to five times a week had better mental health than those who exercised more or less, according to the study published August 8 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

"Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90 minute sessions is associated with worse mental health", said Chekroud.

Team sports could be good for improving mental health because they reduce social withdrawal and isolation, he continued.

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