Exercise for mental health

Exercise is good for your mental health. But there’s a difference between walking the dog for exercise and competing in Ironman triathlons for exercise. How much exercise do you really need for a brain boost? So far, studies into the matter have been small and hard to generalize from. When it came to how much exercise a person needed to see the biggest mental health benefits, it turned out that more wasn’t better. Here’s a graph of the relationship between amount of exercise and the number of bad mental health days someone had. The dashed lines indicate 3, 4, and 5 days a week, respectively. You can see that as exercise frequency increases, mental health burden decreases — up until a point, when mental health gets worse again. Something similar happens with exercise duration. According to the researchers, the sweet spot is right around 30–60 minutes three to five times a week (or 120–360 minutes per week, total). Any more or less, and the brain benefits wane.

But if you work out more than that, there’s reason for hope. “Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case,” says Dr. Chekroud. However, “Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90-minute sessions is associated with worse mental health,” he adds. How much and how many times you indulge into exercising also plays a major role, for instance, if you exercise for 30-40 minutes, three to four times in a week, it will decrease the benefits of improving your mental health. Indulging into working out for 80-90 minutes a day still decreases the poor mental health days than not exercising at all but hitting the gym for more than 3 hours a day is still deadly and not advisable.

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People who are obsessive about doing an extreme amount of exercise can harm themselves with poor mental health issues. Thus, maintaining a balance is required to be fit and acquire great mental and physical wellbeing.

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