Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Exercise can substantially improve mental health

Exercise can substantially improve mental health

Exercise improves mental health: what is the maximum limit?

Conversely, people doing extreme amounts of exercise might have obsessive characteristics which could place them at greater risk of poor mental health, the researchers said.

Engaging in exercises such as cycling, aerobics and gymming for more than three hours a day can worsen mental health than not exercising at all, a study has found.

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".

Dr Adam Chekroud, study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University, said: "Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case". "Exercise is associated with a lower mental health burden across people no matter their age, race, gender, household income and education level".

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"Excitingly, the specifics of the regime, like the type, duration, and frequency, played an important role in this association".

The participants were asked to estimate the number of days over the previous month when they give their mental health a "not good" rating, due to factors such as depression, stress, and emotional issues.

Prof Stephen Lawrie, head of psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said it indicated that social and "mindful" exercise is particularly good for mental health - but not if it is overdone. Those who exercised reported 1.5 fewer days of a struggle, which is a reduction of 43.2 percent. Experts note that the relationship could go both ways for exercise improving mental health - with inactivity being both a symptom of, and contributor to, poor mental health.

However the research also found that more exercise was not always better for mental health and well-being, with people who exercise every day reporting lower moods. Exercising on more than 23 days a month and in sessions lasting 90 minutes or more were actually associated with worse mental health.

For the findings, the researchers used participants' mental and physical health, as well as their demographic information, and health-related behaviors.

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