Exercise :: Exercise linked to less anxiety & depression

A regular run through the park may improve not only heart health but also mental health, revealed by British researchers at University of Bristol.

Researchers followed a group of middle-aged British men for 10 years, and found that those who got regular vigorous exercise were less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over time.

The effect was modest, and there was no evidence of a benefit from other forms of activity, including physical labor at work.

Dr Nicola J Wiles and her colleagues at the University of Bristol report the findings in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Men who reported regular vigorous exercise – such as running or playing soccer – were about one-quarter less likely than their less active peers to develop depression or anxiety over the next 5 years. The benefit was no longer evident at the 10-year mark, however.

According to Wiles and her colleagues, the findings are consistent with what`s been seen in exercise studies of patients with mild depression. It`s thought that exercise may directly affect depression through actions on certain brain chemicals; it might also have indirect benefits by improving self-esteem or body image.

As exercise did not show a strong impact on men`s mental health in this study, the findings point to one more reason to get off the couch. “The widespread encouragement to lead a physically active lifestyle in order to gain the recognized benefits for physical health may also have modest short-term benefits for mental health,” they conclude.

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