Regular Exercise Key to Better Mental Health

regular exercise mental health

 A study of over one million people in the US has found that the optimum amount of exercise for improving mental health is 45 minutes, three to five times a week.

The study found that exercising for more than that does not always lead to further improvements.

Health survey

Previous research has shown that exercise could improve people’s mental health. A new study has looked at how much exercise makes a difference to mental health.

The study involved analysing data from 1.2 million adults in the US who had completed a health survey over a number of years. The data included information about the participants’ physical and mental health, how often they exercised and for how long.

They were also asked to estimate how many days in the previous month they had felt stressed, depressed or had emotional problems.

Poor mental health days

On average, the survey participants had 3.4 days of poor mental health each month. However, those who exercised regularly had 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health a month, compared with those who didn’t do any exercise.

For those people who had previously had depression, those who exercised had seven days of poor mental health a month, compared with 11 days for those who didn’t exercise.

Three to five times a week

The study also found that people who exercised three to five times a week had better mental health than those who exercised less or more than that each week. For example, people who exercised three to five times a week had 2.3 fewer poor mental health days compared with people who exercised twice a month.

Exercising for between 30 minutes and an hour was found to be linked with 2.1 fewer poor mental health days, compared with people who didn’t exercise – the biggest difference when it came to duration of exercise.

Team sports

Small reductions in poor mental health were found in people who exercised for more than 90 minutes a day, but exercising for more than three hours a day was associated with worse mental health.

Although all types of exercise were associated with improved mental health, the strongest link was found with team sports, cycling, and aerobic and gym exercise.

Study author Dr Adam Chekroud said: “Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case.”


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

Related stories:

Share this article