What is the best time to exercise for mental health?

About 2 hours a week

Exercising for at least two hours a week, such as cycling, can help improve your mental health. [사진=클립아트코리아]

Exercise has a huge impact on your physical health as well as your mental health. Several studies have shown that exercise relieves depression or anxiety and improves mood. Exercise can also help keep depression and anxiety from recurring.

According to data from the Mayo Clinic in the United States, when you exercise, brain chemicals such as endorphins are released and you feel better. This is an opportunity to break free from the cycle of negative thoughts that promote depression and anxiety. Regular exercise is also psychologically and emotionally effective.

First, you can gain confidence in the process of creating an exercise plan, challenging yourself, and meeting your goals. In addition, social interaction increases during exercise. Exercise gives you the opportunity to meet and socialize with other people.

So, how much exercise is best for mental health? Studies have shown that two hours a week is enough. A research team at Yale University in the US used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine the degree of depression (how many days per month they felt depressed) along with exercise status, lifestyle , and a diagnosis history of 1.2 million adults.

Subjects answered that 3.36 days per month were mentally difficult days. However, among those who exercised, there were 1.5 fewer days of depression than those who only sat down. Exercise included not only running, but also physical activity such as housework.

Interestingly, people who did moderate exercise lasting about 45 minutes at a time were mentally healthier than people who ran a marathon. Those who worked up a sweat 3-5 times a week had fewer days of depression than those who worked out in the gym every day

The researchers concluded that exercising no more than two to six hours a week is best for mental health. Professor Adam Checkroud from the research team (psychology department) said, “Two hours a week is a moderate level that anyone can try. Instead, an excessive obsession with exercise can be a sign of mental health problems.”

Meanwhile, although almost all exercise is beneficial for the body and brain, one sport in this study was found to be more beneficial for mental health. The number of depressed days among those who took part in team sports such as football, basketball and volleyball fell by 22.3%, the biggest reduction. It was followed by cycling at 21.6% and exercise at the gym such as aerobics at 20.1%. The results of this study (Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1.2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study) were published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

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