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Four days of exercise per week relieves depression and anxiety
Exercise can effectively help manage stress and mental health problems. Scientists have shown that four days of classes a week are enough.
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The risk of infection and forced isolation have a bad effect on the human psyche. New research recalls that exercise can support the psyche in challenging conditions. A research paper published in Health Psychology has shown that exercising as little as four days a week alleviates depression and other mental health problems in people who are sedentary.
Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center conducted one of the first experiments to show the effects of specific exercise regimens on mental health.
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What was the research
The study participants were 119 healthy people aged 20-45 years, who had not previously been diagnosed with mental disorders. Before starting the study, the researchers tested the level of depression, anxiety, hostility and anger in the study participants.
For the experiment, people were randomly divided into two groups. One of the groups was a control group - its participants continued their usual sedentary lifestyle. Participants from the second group performed standard aerobic exercises: walked or jogged on a treadmill (treadmill), “rode” a stationary bike for 35 minutes four times a week. The intensity of the exercises had to be such that their breathing increased markedly, and the pulse accelerated by 70-80%.
After three months, all participants completed the mood and mental health questionnaires again. Participants in the active group were then asked to return to a sedentary lifestyle for one month.
When the study participants were tested for mental health at the end of the study, the researchers analyzed their changes over four months.
At the beginning of the study, the mental state of the participants was normal: they had low levels of depression and anxiety. But participants who exercised for three months were able to reduce their already low scores: they improved their depression test scores by about 35%. Improvement in mental health indicators tended to persist; depression and anxiety did not return to their previous indicators during a month of passive life. The test results of people who led a fixed lifestyle did not practically change.
“This study reminds us that the tool to fight is available to us. If you can safely go outside and walk or run, that should help you cope with the negative psyche that almost everyone is feeling now,”Kathleen McIntyre, author of the study, told The New York Times.
She added that if physical activity on the street is not available now, you can turn to any exercise courses online. Any physical activity will be beneficial.