Running twice a week is enough to improve mental wellbeing, finds news study

Results from one of the largest studies of its kind reinforce the positive impact of running on mental health.


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Running or walking for just 30 minutes two times a week can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing, new research has found.

The 18-month study, led by world-leading researcher in movement and mental health professor Brendon Stubbs, saw 2,909 participants following sportswear brand Asics‘ ‘Movement for Mind‘ program over a period of eight weeks.

This saw participants walking or running for 30 minutes twice a week while listening to different audio sessions. These sessions, guided by different experts, instruct participants to engage with various mental health practices and techniques while they move.

Each session builds on the last and focuses on a different theme, including breath work, mindful movement, Sophrology, connecting to nature, music and mindful meditation.

Participants were given a baseline questionnaire to fill in before the trial began and a final questionnaire at the end of the trial.

Known as the Warwick-Edinburgh mental wellbeing scale, the questionnaire asks people to record how they have been thinking or feeling over the previous two weeks. It is widely used in public health, workplaces and clinical settings.

Results found that participants’ mental wellbeing improved by 1.08 points (where a difference of one point is clinically meaningful).

The programme was initially tested by Asics in a smaller 2021 trial and was found to make a clinically meaningful difference to people’s wellbeing over eight weeks.

‘Our 2021 randomised control trial involved almost two hundred people and proved that the Asics Movement for Mind programme positively impacted mental wellbeing,’ explains professor Brendon Stubbs.

‘To establish definitively if the programme would deliver the same benefit in the real world, it was necessary to undertake a real-world evaluation of the programme.

‘This is what we did, inviting thousands of people to take part and tracking their wellbeing changes. And I’m pleased to say that we have continued to observe improved mental wellbeing results due to the twice-weekly programme sessions.

‘This is an important step forward in our understanding of the link between movement and mental wellbeing. We can confidently re-assert that even small amounts of exercise can help people feel better.’

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