Mental Health Improves with exercise
Mental health benefits are often underrated in the quest for physical prowess, one often hits the gym or track focusing purely on the physical effort required. The effect of psychological health drives all that we do, from motivating us to strive for improvement through to assisting us to deal with anxiety and depression.
Studies have shown that regular physical activity is beneficial for mental well-being and health (e.g. reduced levels of depression & anxiety).
However, less is known about how a person’s mental health is related to their cardiovascular fitness level.
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between mental health status and fitness levels among community-dwelling generally healthy adults.
A total of 197 healthy but inactive adults aged 30-64yrs (51% males) completed an aerobic capacity test on a stationary exercise bike. They also completed a set of validated questionnaires designed to assess mental health-related constructs such as perceptions of stress and symptoms of burnout and depression.
As expected, when compared to the least fit participants, those with higher fitness levels had fewer symptoms of stress, burnout and depression. Interestingly, when participants were divided into high stress and low stress groups, higher fitness levels were associated with lower levels of burnout and depression (inverse relationship) only in those who had high stress levels.
This indicates that there is a protective role of physical fitness on symptoms of burnout and depression among high stressed individuals.
The more fit a person is, the less likely they will be to suffer from symptoms of stress, burnout and depression.
Furthermore, among people with high stress levels, good fitness levels seem to protect against burnout and depression. Fitness trainers should emphasise the need to improve cardiovascular fitness not only for improvement in physical health, but also to improve mental health.
Source: Fitness Australia
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