We all know that exercise has multiple physical health benefits but how can it affect your mental health?
Well it turns out that exercise could be more important to your mental health than even your economic status.
A study in The Lancet carried out by researchers from Oxford and Yale, looked at links between mood and exercise across a sample of 1.2 million Americans.
The key findings were that people who exercise are on the whole happier than those that don’t. If you’re a number’s person….then those that exercise tend to feel bad around 35 days a year, while those that don’t feel down 53 days a year.
One of the study authors Adam Chekroud of Yale also observed a U-shaped curve between sport duration and mental health. The optimum amount of training for happiness is 3 to 5 sessions a week of between 30 – 60 minutes each.
So, little and often (the approach we take with our programmes and clients.)
A 2018 study in The Journal Of Happiness Studies reviewed 23 past studies and found a strong link between exercise and happiness. Even 10 minutes had benefits, and generally people who did more were happier, while something was better than none at all.
It’s not just happiness that’s a benefit of exercise. Multiple studies have suggested that the pre-frontal cortex and medial temporal cortex (the thinking and memory parts of the brain) are larger in people who regularly exercise. A more recent study by the University of British Columbia found that regular cardio sessions boosts the size of the hippocampus which is involved in verbal memory and learning.
A 2019 study in the European Review of Ageing and Physical Activity found that resistance training showed improvements in the brain frontal lobes and improved functions.
Where this gets exciting is that research is now looking at the role of exercise in combatting brain degeneration with the focus particularly on the role of exercise in helping delay or even reverse dementia.
So, exercise not only makes you happier, but it improves your brain functions and slows brain ageing.
Time to lace up those trainers…
James (& Claire)