Regular, structured exercise sufficient to lower risk of mental illness — study
Maintaining an active lifestyle and exercising regularly has stronger mental health benefits than intermittent bouts of intense aerobic activity, a new study has found.
The Swedish study, which surveyed 36 000 middle-aged males and females over 30 days, found that frequent moderate exercise is more strongly linked to improved mental health than high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness.
Respondents who exercised a minimum of once or twice a week were less likely to experience depression and anxiety than those with higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), who were more likely to spend time between bouts of exercise being sedentary.
“This suggests that high CRF may not be necessary to prevent common mental health symptoms. Instead, regular participation in a preferred form of structured exercise may be of greater relative importance,” said study author Mats Hallgren.
SA health expert Vanessa Ascencao said feelings of stress, worry and fear were on the increase globally and depression rates in South Africa had doubled over the last three years. She cautioned that enduring stress was detrimental to not only mental health but contributed to the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
“In addition to regular exercise, diet is the fuel that affects the structure and function of the brain and mood, so make sure you boost your nutrient intake. Strive to eat nourishing foods and take quality supplements such as Felix affron, shown to help improve mood, sleep and cognitive health, BetterYou DLux and Boost B12 vitamin oral sprays, proven to work better than pills, and Biomax Magnesium which contains liposomal magnesium for greater absorption.
“Maintain connections with friends and loved ones, take regular breaks, live mindfully, get enough restorative sleep at night, manage stress and ask for help. Implementing these will go a long way to maintaining better mental health,” said Ascencao.