Physical fitness may help prevent depression and anxiety
Although there is evidence that exercise can boost mental health, scientists know less about whether physical fitness can prevent the onset of mental health conditions. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis take a closer look.
Common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, are a growing global issue.
They reduce overall wellbeing and life satisfaction, but they may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and increase mortality risk.
Although talking therapies and medication can help in many instances, they do not help everyone.
An issue as substantial as mental health needs an effective public health strategy; stopping mental health issues before they begin would, of course, be ideal.
Researchers are focused on unraveling the myriad of factors that increase the risk of developing mental health conditions. Although it is not possible to alter some of these factors, such as genetics, it is possible to modify some lifestyle factors, including diet and physical activity.
Scientists are keen to identify which modifiable factors might have the most significant impact on mental health. Some researchers are looking to physical fitness.
Fitness and mental health
The authors of a recent study investigated whether cardio-respiratory fitness might be an effective intervention. Cardio-respiratory fitness is a measure of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems’ capacity to supply oxygen to the body during exercise.
The authors explain how previous studies “have found that low physical activity is associated with a greater incidence of common mental health disorders.” However, few studies have investigated whether cardio-respiratory fitness is directly related to mental health risk.