Sometimes it takes an evidence-based source of motivation to help us get in shape or stay fit. Today this may come in the form of a recent 7-year study that looked at over 150,000 people. The study found that those who had a higher aerobic or muscular fitness level are much less likely to suffer from depression or experience anxiety. This study was published by BMC Medicine on November 11, 2020.
A Look at the Study
In this study Aaron Kandola (lead author from UCL Division of Psychiatry) found that people who had a low level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness were about two times more likely to suffer from depression than those who had higher levels of aerobic/muscular fitness. This was also seen as an indicator of an increased likelihood of developing generalized anxiety disorder too.
There were 152,978 participants in this study between the ages of 40 – 69. They also participated in nationwide longitudinal research that was conducted from April 2007 – December 2010. This consisted of 500,000 people from Wales, Scotland, and England.
At the beginning of the study, Kandola collected baseline measurements from each of the participants. This looked at their cardiorespiratory fitness levels by having them use a stationary bike. She also conducted grip strength tests in both hands to predict total muscle strength. This was done with a hydraulic hand dynamometer. Things like chronic illness, mental illnesses, dietary habits, and socioeconomic status were also considered as participants filled out multiple questionnaires.
What Research Shows
After 7 years, the same tests were conducted once again. This is when they discovered that high levels of aerobic and muscular fitness resulted in better mental health. During the follow-up analysis, it was also discovered that people with very low aerobic and muscular fitness are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
These findings have led the study’s authors to speculate that engaging in aerobic and resistance training will help lower the risk of developing a mental illness. While exercise, in general, seems to be beneficial, aerobic and resistance training in specific seems to work best here. This is especially true when they are intense enough to increase fitness.
Kandola believes that her findings suggest that there are great public health benefits that come from encouraging people to exercise. It seems that it won’t only improve a person’s physical health, but also their mental health too. The best way to improve fitness here is through a combination of cardio exercises coupled with strength and resistance training. This seems to be much more effective in fighting depression than simply focusing on either aerobic or muscular fitness.
A Look at Other Studies
Other studies have also been conducted in this same regard. They’ve found that it only takes a couple of weeks of intensive exercise for a person to experience great improvements to their aerobic and muscular fitness. As such, Kandola is hopeful that it won’t take very long for this exercise to also make a big difference in terms of a person’s mental health too.
Kandola admits to being worried by the fact that people aren’t as physically active as they were in the past. This is especially true since the pandemic has led to gyms closing and people spending much more time at home.
There’s some speculation that encouraging people to improve their physical fitness will significantly decrease depression, anxiety, and other common mental health issues while also improving their physical health. If you find yourself suffering from depression contact the TMS Advantage in St Petersburg, FL for help today.
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