By Lee-Ann Watanabe, Wellness Educator

Study Cited: Chekroud, S.R., et al. 2018. Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1.2 million individuals in the USA between 2001 and 2015: A cross-sectional study. Lancet Psychiatry, 5 (9), 739-45.

Have you heard that exercise isn’t only good for you body, but also good for your mind? In the study referenced above, research shows that nearly 45% of active people surveyed were less likely to have depressive symptoms than their inactive peers.

Mental Illness more Common than you Think

Mental health statistics in the USA are note-worthy with mental illness being a common disability affecting 44.7 million people (that’s one in 5 adults). In addition, mental illness has the highest prevalence amongst young adults.

Essential Facets of Mental Health

The mental health landscape is divided into two broad categories AMI and SMI:

Any Mental Illness (AMI): an emotional, mental or behavioral disorder with an impact ranging from no impairment to mild or moderate impairment.

Serious Mental Illness (SMI): a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder that causes profound functional impairment and markedly interferes with one or more major life activities.

Role of Exercise in Mental Health

While exercisers report fewer mental health problems, you should keep in mind that every person is unique. What may work for one person, may not work for you. In the referenced study we noted above, here are the key take-aways you should consider:

-Exercise sessions of 30-60 minutes provide the best effect on mental health. 45 minutes is optimal with harder intensities providing better mental health results overall.

-Exercising at least 3-5 times per week in a variety of modes is appropriate for producing mental health benefits.

-More exercise is not necessarily better; exercisers with 23 or more sessions per month or sessions longer than 90 minutes were associated with worse mental health outcomes.

-Popular sports-mostly team competitions-correlate with the fewest mental health burdens. The social activity with team sports reduces depression suggesting favorable stress effects for people involved in group exercise.

Weekly Motivation

This week consider setting aside time in your workday to include some heart-bumping physical activity. Whether it be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, biking to and from the office or practicing a 10 minute meditation during your lunch break, renew your commitment to improve your health behaviors in 2019.

We at WYAO Hawaii are always here to help. Let us Connect the Dots to help you Create the Shift to Move More and Live Better!

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