Too Much Exercise May Lead to Diminished Mental Health

Although fitness keeps your body healthy by regulating weight and building muscle strength, exercise also can improve your mind. An increase in self-esteem, lessening of anxiety, calming of the nerves and elevation of your mood can be results of exercise. However, a recent study by professors at Teachers College at Columbia University, New York, reported that too much exercise can lead to diminished mental health.

People who exercised more than 7.5 hours per week had sharply increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, irrespective of age, gender or physical health status, according to “The Relationship between Physical Activity and General Mental Health” report.

So what is the optimum amount of physical activity associated with better mental health? Depending on gender, age and general physical health, people who exercise 2.5 to 7.5 hours per week report better mental health. However, the largest mental health benefits occurred with two to four hours of exercise per week. Sixty-five percent of those with poorer mental health exercised more than four hours per week, the report found.

This study raises other questions. Do people who tend to be depressed and anxious engage in extended physical exercise as a way of keeping their mental symptoms under control? Or do repeated, long-lasting exercise sessions or overtraining actually cause symptoms of depression and anxiety? What do you think?

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Behind the Scenes?

Behind-the-Scenes - Get a look behind the magazine--the people the editors talk to, the clubs they visit and the stories they are working on.

Blog Archive