Moderate exercise has positive effect on mental health, study says

The people who exercised only reported two such days, 1.5 less than those who do notexercise so exercising reduced 43.2 percent of poor mental health days.

Among the 75 types of exercise recorded, all types were linked with better mental health.

However, the study suggested that overworking oneself in exercises would lead to worse mental health. A new study verifies an already widely-held belief that exercising moderately has a positive effect on mental health.

Exercise is known to bring health benefits such as risk the of illnesses like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but links with mental health were not as clear.

The participants were asked to estimate the number of days over the previous month when they give their mental health a "not good" rating, due to factors such as depression, stress, and emotional issues.

How often and for how long people were active was also important.

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Conversely, people doing extreme amounts of exercise might have obsessive characteristics which could place them at greater risk of poor mental health, the researchers said.

"Exercise is associated with a lower mental health burden across people no matter their age, race, gender, household income and education level", said study co-author Dr. Adam Chekroud. He said that people who do not exercise enough are not giving their brains much needed stimulation, while people who exercise too much are running themselves into the ground.

The findings back up government guidelines recommending that people should do 150 minutes of physical activity per week. It is based on self-reporting, which is not always accurate, and there is no way of measuring physical activity.

The study determined that exercising in 45-minute sessions for three to five times per week offered the best benefits, with no visible difference even if the sessions lasted beyond 90 minutes.

"However, the nature of the study means it's hard to say more than that with any real certainty", he said. How exercise affects an individual's mental health?

"I suspect we all know people who seem "addicted" to exercise and if this starts to impact on other aspects of life - like foregoing social activities because one has to be up at the crack of dawn to run several miles - it might actually be bad for people", he added.

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