Scientists in a recent study have said that physical fitness may help to prevent depression and anxiety. According to medicalnewstoday.com, common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, are a growing global issue as they reduce overall well-being and life satisfaction and may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The authors of the study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, 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 explained how previous studies have found that low physical activity was associated with a greater incidence of common mental health disorders. The lead author of the study, Dr Aaron Kandola, from the University College, London, United Kingdom, said the cardio-respiratory fitness could be expensive and impractical to measure, particularly in large groups of people.
He explained how it needs to be measured with structured exercise tests that require the use of specialised equipment in a controlled environment. The researchers identified seven studies in their qualitative synthesis and four that they could enter into their meta-analysis.
Their analysis of the latter four studies which included 27,733,154 person-years of data produced significant results. The authors wrote, “We found that low and medium cardio-respiratory fitness is associated with 47 per cent and 23 per cent greater risk of common mental health disorders, compared with high cardio-respiratory fitness.”
They also found evidence of a dose-dependent relationship between fitness and common mental health conditions. The authors explained that increases in the cardio-respiratory fitness group were associated with proportional decreases in associated risk of new-onset common with mental health disorders.
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