Money really can’t buy happiness. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers from Yale and Harvard, who noted that exercise is far more beneficial for a person’s mental well-being than a massive bank balance.
To arrive at these findings, a study of 1.2 million people across all 50 U.S. states was conducted in order to determine whether or not physical activity had any positive impact on mental health. Until now, previous research has produced conflicting results, but the latest study published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal found a definite link between exercise and improved mood.
This is one of the largest observational studies of its kind, and the findings could have profound implications.
“Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and there is an urgent need to find ways to improve mental health through population health campaigns,” said Adam Chekroud, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Chief Scientist at Spring Health, USA, and the study’s senior author, in a statement.
Exercise is associated with a lower mental health burden and it includes people of all age, race, gender, household income and education level, he explained.
“Excitingly, the specifics of the regime, like the type, duration, and frequency, played an important role in this association. We are now using this to try and personalize exercise recommendations, and match people with a specific exercise regime that helps improve their mental health.”
For the study, researchers gathered the demographic data of participants as well as information about their physical health, mental health, and health behaviors. Participants were then asked to estimate how they would rate their mental health according to stress, depression and emotional problems in the past 30 days. This was then compared to how often they exercised in the same period.
All types of physical activities were included in the study but team sports, cycling, aerobics and going to the gym appeared to have the most profound effect. The study also found exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week had the most benefits.
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