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Low intensity exercise linked to reduced depression

New research finds strong association between physical activity and better mental health

Date:
April 24, 2024
Source:
Anglia Ruskin University
Summary:
New research has found a significant association between participating in low to moderate intensity exercise and reduced rates of depression.
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New research has found a significant association between participating in low to moderate intensity exercise and reduced rates of depression.

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) carried out an umbrella review of studies carried out across the world to examine the potential of physical activity as a mental health intervention.

The analysis, published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, found that physical activity reduced the risk of depression by 23% and anxiety by 26%. A particularly strong association was found between low and moderate physical activity, which included activities such as gardening, golf and walking, and reduced risk of depression. However, this was not strongly observed for high intensity exercise.

Physical activity was also significantly associated with reduced risk of severe mental health conditions, including a reduction in psychosis/schizophrenia by 27%.

The results were consistent in both men and women, and across different age groups and across the world.

Lead author Lee Smith, Professor of Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: "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."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Anglia Ruskin University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Masoud Rahmati, San Lee, Dong Keon Yon, Seung Won Lee, Raphael Udeh, Mark McEvoy, Hans Oh, Laurie Butler, Helen Keyes, Yvonne Barnett, Ai Koyanagi, Jae Il Shin, Lee Smith. Physical activity and prevention of mental health complications: An umbrella review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 2024; 160: 105641 DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2024.105641

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Anglia Ruskin University. "Low intensity exercise linked to reduced depression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2024. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240424111612.htm>.
Anglia Ruskin University. (2024, April 24). Low intensity exercise linked to reduced depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 22, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240424111612.htm
Anglia Ruskin University. "Low intensity exercise linked to reduced depression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240424111612.htm (accessed May 22, 2024).

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