Low-Intensity Exercise Associated with Lower Depression but Not High-Intensity Exercise

Recent studies have discovered a strong correlation between lower rates of depression and engaging in low-to-moderate intensity exercise.

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) researchers reviewed a comprehensive set of international research to investigate the possibility of physical activity as a mental health intervention.

Physical activity was shown to lower anxiety and depression risk by 26% and 23%, respectively, according to an analysis published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews. Low and moderate physical activity, which includes sports like walking, golfing, and gardening, was found to have a particularly strong correlation with a lower incidence of depression. For high-intensity exercise, this was not clearly seen.

Additionally, there was a substantial correlation found between physical exercise and a decreased chance of severe mental health issues, such as a 27% decrease in psychosis and schizophrenia.

The outcomes held true for both genders, all age groups, and all regions of the world.

Lead author Lee Smith, an Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) professor of public health, stated: “Preventing mental health complications effectively has emerged as a major challenge, and an area of paramount importance in the realm of public health. These conditions can be complex and necessitate a multi-pronged approach to treatment, which may encompass pharmacological interventions, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes.”

“These effects of physical activity intensity on depression highlight the need for precise exercise guidelines. Moderate exercise can improve mental health through biochemical reactions, whereas high-intensity exercise may worsen stress-related responses in some individuals.”

“Acknowledging differences in people’s response to exercise is vital for effective mental health strategies, suggesting any activity recommendations should be tailored for the individual.”

“The fact that even low to moderate levels of physical activity can be beneficial for mental health is particularly important, given that these levels of activity may be more achievable for people who can make smaller lifestyle changes without feeling they need to commit to a high-intensity exercise programme.”

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