We all know that physical activity is essential for our physical health and wellbeing. But there is an increasing body of research that was and is still being conducted, which indicates that exercising is not only good for the body, but also for the mind.
One of the most recent studies to demonstrate the connection between physical movement and mental health is the Association Between Physical Activity and Risk of Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, published online in Jama Psychiatry. The meta-analysis was compiled using information from 348 studies and data extracted from participants in countries all around the world.
With depression being one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide, the study concluded that “this systematic review and meta-analysis of associations between physical activity and depression suggests significant mental health benefits from being physically active, even at levels below the public health recommendations”.
Another recent study conducted across the United States, analyzing the connection between exercising and mental health, revealed that the best type of physical activity for mood and mental state improvement actually depends on the specific characteristics of each individual, such as weight and medical condition. The study entitled Relationship between physical activity and mental health in a national representative cross-section study: Its variations according to obesity and comorbidity, drew the conclusion that there is no one-size-fits-all pattern of physical activities when it comes to mental health improvement. Instead, it is very important to decide the most valuable type of activity for each person. For example, the study showed that aerobic workouts were the most beneficial for people suffering from obesity, while activities such as running and biking had the best effects in the case of healthy individuals.
The general conclusion of most studies analyzing the connection between physical movement and mental health is that the former clearly has a beneficial effect on the latter, significantly contributing to reducing anxiety and the risk of depression.