Exercise linked to better mental health, but too much may do harm

10 Août, 2018, 01:07 | Auteur: Yves Courtet

The scientists, led by experts at Yale University in the United States and Oxford University, found that exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week was associated with the biggest benefits.

Exercising for 30-60 minutes was associated with the biggest reduction in poor mental health days - associated with around 2.1 fewer days of poor mental health.

A massive study of 1.2 million people showed those who partook in some kind of physical activity on a frequent basis were generally less stressed and depressed than those who did nothing at all.

Exercise is known to bring health benefits by reducing the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but its links with mental health were less clear.

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.

The scientists found that team sports reduced the time spent in poor mental health by 22 per cent, cycling by 21 per cent, and going to the gym by 20 per cent.

Researchers from the universities of Yale and Oxford have found a moderate level of exercise improves mental health, while excessive workouts can have a negative effect.

The research also found that more exercise was not always better for psychological well-being, with people who exercise every day reporting lower levels of mental health.

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How often and for how long people were active was also important.

Here's an excuse for skipping that gym session: too much exercise may be bad for your mental health.

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

The findings back up government guidelines recommending that people should do 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

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".

"However, the nature of the study means it's hard to say more than that with any real certainty", he said.

"I suspect we all know people who seem "addicted" to exercise and if this starts to impact on other aspects of life - like foregoing social activities because one has to be up at the crack of dawn to run several miles - it might actually be bad for people", he added.

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