Amount of Physical Exercise Affects Mental Health Burden

Physical exercise is associated with self-reported mental health burden in the past month.

HealthDay News — Physical exercise is associated with self-reported mental health burden in the past month, according to a study published online Aug. 8 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Sammi R. Chekroud, from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,237,194 people aged 18 years or older from the 2011, 2013, and 2015 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys. The number of days of bad self-reported mental health was compared between individuals who exercised and those who did not. The effects of exercise type, duration, frequency, and intensity were examined.

The researchers found that, compared with individuals who did not exercise but were otherwise matched for several physical and sociodemographic characteristics, individuals who exercised had 1.49 fewer days of poor mental health in the past month. There was a correlation for all exercise types with a lower mental health burden (minimum reduction, 11.8 percent; maximum reduction, 22.3 percent) compared with no exercising. The largest correlations were seen for popular team sports, cycling, and aerobic and gym activities (22.3, 21.6, and 20.1 percent lower, respectively) and for durations of 45 minutes and frequencies of three to five times per week.

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“Specific types, durations, and frequencies of exercise might be more effective clinical targets than others for reducing mental health burden, and merit interventional study,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry and/or patents and inventions related to mental health treatment.

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