An encouraging paper by Chekroud et al (2018) using a staggering sample size of 1.2 million people points to a ‘sweet spot’ in exercising as an association with improved mental health.
This study suggests that exercising for between 30mins and 60mins, 3-5x week is associated with a 40% better personal rating of “how they were feeling” and how many mentally stressed or emotional days in a month.
And while the chicken and egg argument exists loud and clear for this..i.e. is exercise creating better mental health, or are people with better mental health more likely to exercise? One of the most exciting findings from this is how accessible this is for people and that the level of improvement in mental health by exercising (any exercise, but especially team/group exercise) has greater benefits than some of the other subgroups. Exercise vs no-exercise is a stronger mental health improver than being not-obese vs obese and being wealthy vs poor.
The effect of this could be huge, it’s generally a non-confronting way to address mental health issues, and another reason to move more.
Checkroud SR, Gueorguieva R, et al. Association between physical and mental health in 1.2million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross sectional study. Lancet. 2018. 5 (9): 739-746.