Researchers Confirm the Link Between Fitness and Mental Health

While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence about the link between physical health and mental health, a big study has just confirmed what we already knew. More than 150,000 participants underwent tests to measure their fitness and assess their anxiety and depression with standard clinical questionnaires between August 2009 and December 2010. Seven years later, the same group had their anxiety and depression re-assessed with the same questionnaire. Researchers found a clear correlation between initial physical health and mental health seven years later.

The Study

While we understand that physical activity can help prevent or treat mental health conditions, the specifics aren’t as clear. How exactly does physical activity help, and how can researchers collect specific evidence of the causal relationship? These are the questions the researchers set out to answer. They started by examining a database of over 500,000 volunteers between 40 and 69 years of age from the United Kingdom. From this group, they tested over 150,000 participants for the fitness and mental health testing. In the cardio component, participants rode a stationary bike for six minutes and had their heart rate monitored before, during, and after. Grip strength was also tested as a proxy for muscle strength.

Participants who were classified with low cardio fitness and low muscle strength had far greater odds of experiencing depression – a whopping 98% – and about 60% higher odds of struggling with anxiety.

And while researchers looked at correlations between mental health and cardio fitness or muscle strength, it was the combination of poor cardio and muscle strength that had the greatest impact on future mental health.

In short, the study confirmed the importance of incorporating both cardio and strength training not just for physical health today, but mental health tomorrow. If you’d like to get started, the certified trainers at Framework Personal Training in Reno can help. Contact us today, and let’s make a plan to get you started on the path to wellness.

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