Dose Up On Exercise

What exercise? Running

A review study, published in Polish Psychiatry found rhythmic, aerobic exercise using large muscle groups elicited the best improvements in anxiety, depression and mood. Sounds like running should fit the bill.


How long for? 10-30 minutes

Just 10 minutes can lift mood, found research published in Health Psychology, while a 30-minute workout can buffer you against anxiety and emotional stress, found researchers at the University of Maryland, US.


How hard? Any intensity

Research published in Psychology and Health found low-intensity exercise reduced anxiety while more intense exercise did not. “We recommend low- to moderate-intensity exercise for mental health benefits,” says Professor Stuart Biddle, a sports psychologist at Loughborough University in the UK. However, with high-intensity exercise there’s a rebound effect, generating a positive mental state.


How often? 2-3 times a week

Finnish research published in Preventive Medicine found those who exercised at least two to three times a week reported significantly less depression, anger, cynicism and stress than those who exercised less. Other research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests it’s not frequency per se that counts, but volume. Results showed a weekly ‘dose’ equal to 17.5kcal per kg of body weight alleviated mild to moderate depression.


Where? Outside

Pleasant surroundings can enhance the positive effects of exercise, according to research. For example, a study published in Psychophysiology found outdoor running boosted mood better than treadmill running. We have an innate need to connect with the natural environment,” says Dr John Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Spark: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain.


Who with? A group

Research shows people are more motivated to exercise in a group. “It’s common to become isolated and withdrawn when depressed – being around others can help,” says Professor John Campbell.

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