Exercise, in addition to fitness, can also improve mental health, according to a British study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The research team of the University of Bristol led by Dr. Nicolas Wales has placed 1,158 middle-aged Britons under medical supervision for 10 years. At the beginning, the participants stated their habits regarding their physical exercise and physical activity during their professional employment. They also completed detailed questionnaires on depression and anxiety at 3 different stages of research.
In general, men who reported regular intense exercise, such as running or playing football, were about 25% less likely than their less active peers to experience depression or anxiety within the next 5 years. The benefit was not obvious after a decade.
The findings are consistent with those observed in patients with mild depression. It is believed that exercise can directly affect depression through actions on specific brain chemicals. It can also indirectly affect it by improving a person's self-esteem.
Systematic exercise is also comparable to drugs in treating depressive symptoms, as confirmed by a new, better-designed clinical study.
Frequent physical exercise also has a positive effect on mental health. Those who exercise tend to be active in their social life as well.