While scientists have research stating that exercise boosts mental health, they’re not yet certain whether physical fitness can prevent the onset of depression. This is something that’s important to understand because it’s now becoming a global epidemic. Unfortunately, it’ll diminishes your well being and overall life satisfaction while increasing things like your risk for developing cardiovascular disease, as well as your mobility rate. Although talk therapy and medication can help, they don’t help everyone.
What Recent Research Says…
There are many factors that influence your mental health. While some of these factors (e.g. genetics) can’t be altered, others (e.g. lifestyle, diet, physical fitness) can be. Researchers are doing their best to learn which of these factors have the most impact on your mental health and currently they believe one of them is how much physical activity you get.
In one recent study cardiorespiratory fitness was reviewed as a possibly effective intervention (a measure of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems’ ability to supply you with enough oxygen while you’re exercising). Results of this study that was conducted by Aaron Kandola from the University College London were analyzed by the Journal of Affective Disorders. Herein the authors explain that in previous studies low physical activity was associated with more mental health issues. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of these studies available that look at depression in specific.
Medical News Today interviewed Kandola. During this interview they specifically inquired as to why so few studies look at this question in specific. According to Kandola one reason is that it’s both impractical and expensive to measure cardiorespiratory fitness for numerous people. This is because it must be measured with structured exercise tests. These require specialized equipment be used. It’s also important for such testing to be done in a controlled environment.
What Other Research Says…
Researchers dug a bit further to look at how activity and depression or anxiety may be interrelated. For this they relied on papers based on a prospective study design. In other words, when the study began none of the participants were diagnosed with any type of a mental health issue. They were then observed to see if they’d eventually develop one. Researchers only found 7 studies that qualified in this fashion and only four were able to be entered for meta-analysis. When they analyzed these four studies they low to medium cardiorespiratory fitness lead to a 23% – 47% increase in common mental health issues. There’s also evidence that small increases in activity resulted in proportional decreases in the onset of any new mental health condition. This proves that exercise plays a major role in determining your cardiorespiratory fitness – something that will have a major impact on your mental health.
While many people are quite surprised that there isn’t more research available in this area, hopefully now more attention will be devoted to it. This is something that Kandola and his team of researchers plans to continue pursuing and exploring because he believes that it’ll require several studies into this matter to truly understand the interconnected relationship between exercise and depression, as well as the impact of exercise thereon. Once this relationship is firmly established, it’s also important to look at how this varies across a person’s lifespan. Hopefully this research will help identify any other underlying factors as well. All this information will help lead to better treatment for depression and the people who are suffering from it.
Regardless of why you may be suffering from depression, if you’re in need of help you should reach out to the people at The TMS Advantage. They’ve helped many people move on to live healthier, happier lives.
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