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Poor Fitness Levels Linked With Depression and Anxiety

Large study shows significant relationship between exercise and depression.

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Exercise and depression

Keep promoting the mental health benefits of exercise. People with low levels of aerobic and muscular fitness have a 98% greater risk of depression and a 60% greater risk of anxiety than people with high levels of overall fitness, according to a study published in BMC Medicine (2020; 18 [1], 303). University College London researchers based these findings on data analysis of 152,978 male and female participants ages 40–69 in the UK Biobank study.

“Our findings suggest that encouraging people to exercise more could have extensive public health benefits, improving not only our physical health but our mental health too,” said senior study author Joseph Hayes, PhD, research fellow in the Division of Psychiatry. “Improving fitness through a combination of cardio exercise and strength and resistance training appears to be more beneficial than just focusing on aerobic or muscular fitness.”

See also: Can Exercise Prevent Depression?

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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