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Large study finds clear association between fitness and mental health


BMC Medicine
the Anxiety and Depression Association of America
the National Institute of Mental Health
participants’
the Division of Psychiatry
University College London


health?It
Aaron Kandola
Aaron KandolaThe

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Biobank


the United States
U.S.
U.K.
England
Wales
Scotland
United Kingdom


Depression

Positivity     40.29%   
   Negativity   59.71%
The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/large-study-finds-clear-association-between-fitness-and-mental-health
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Summary

With this information, clinicians can offer more targeted guidance to people with mental health conditions.To begin to answer some of these questions, a team of researchers analyzed an existing large dataset that allowed them to build on their understanding of the association between physical fitness and mental health.In the present study, the researchers drew on data from the U.K. Biobank — a data repository comprising information from more than 500,000 volunteers aged 40–69 years from England, Wales, and Scotland.Between August 2009 and December 2010, a subset of the U.K. Biobank participants — amounting to 152,978 participants — underwent tests to measure their fitness.Investigators assessed the participants’ cardiorespiratory fitness by monitoring their heart rate before, during, and after a 6-minute submaximal exercise test on a stationary bicycle.They also measured the volunteers’ grip strength, which the researchers of the present study used as a proxy for muscle strength.Alongside these physical fitness tests, the participants completed two standard clinical questionnaires relating to anxiety and depression to give the researchers an overview of their mental health.After 7 years, the researchers assessed each person’s anxiety and depression again using the same two clinical questionnaires.In their analysis, the researchers accounted for potential confounding factors, such as age, natal sex, previous mental health issues, smoking status, income level, physical activity, educational experience, parental depression, and diet.The researchers found a significant correlation between the participants’ initial physical fitness and their mental health 7 years later.Participants who were classified as having low combined cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength had 98% higher odds of experiencing depression and 60% higher odds of experiencing anxiety.The researchers also looked at the separate correlations between mental health and cardiorespiratory fitness, and mental health and muscle strength. They found that each measure of fitness was individually associated with a change in risk but less significantly so than the combination of measures.According to Aaron Kandola, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Division of Psychiatry at University College London, United Kingdom: “Here, we have provided further evidence of a relationship between physical and mental health and that structured exercise aimed at improving different types of fitness is not only good for your physical health, but may also have mental health benefits.”– Aaron KandolaThe study is a robust prospective study with a long follow-up period of 7 years and objective measures of both the risk factor (cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength) and the outcome (depression, anxiety, or both).

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