For Better Mental Health, Exercise 3 to 5 Times a Week
This is the largest research to study the link between exercise and mental health.
This is the largest research to study the link between exercise and mental health.(Photo: iStockPhoto)

For Better Mental Health, Exercise 3 to 5 Times a Week

Regular exercise lasting 30 to 45 minutes 5 times a week has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but now a new study, the biggest of its kind claims it may help reduce poor mental health.

The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal, covered over 1.2 million people in the US and tracked their mental health over a month.

Team sports, aerobics and cycling had the most positive impact, with people who exercised reporting 1.5 fewer bad days a month as compared to those who didn’t exercise.

What’s interesting what that this impact was visible across ages and gender.

The largest impact was among those previously diagnosed with depression, with them reporting seven days of poor mental health a month compared with nearly 11 days for those who did no exercise.

So How Long Should One Exercise?

Group exercises prove to be better for your overall mental well-being.
Group exercises prove to be better for your overall mental well-being.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Optimal result was 30 to 60 minutes every alternate day.

But there is a catch. There is such a thing as too much exercise for those battling mental health.

According to the authors of the study, exercising more than 23 times a month and more than 90 minutes is worse for mental health. But with team sports performing better on all metrics, it’s a sign that group activities reduce isolation and help battle depression.

Key Findings of the Study:

  • Individuals who exercised had 1.49 fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise.
  • All exercise types were associated with a lower mental health burden.
  • The largest associations were seen for popular team sports like cycling, aerobic and gym activities, for a duration of 45 minutes and frequencies of three to five times per week.

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