How much exercise do you need for your mental health

Exercise is beneficial for mental health but how much? The largest study may just offer us an answer on how much exercise we need

Exercise, we know it’s good for us physically… but for our mental health too?

The large dose of endorphins from exercise has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression… and even stop them from happening!

So what type of exercise? Do you have to walk your dog or run a marathon?

How much do you need to get that boost for your mental health?

Most of the studies trying to figure this out have been small and used generalizations to give guidelines. The largest study yet may give us a surprising answer…

The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry and used 1.2 million people to analyze the effects of different types of exercise on overall mental health.

It was three years of data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance, they asked about their mental health history, current well-being, and their exercise habits.

The general consensus was that physical activity performed in groups (team sports/fitness class) provides you greater benefits than walking, running, or lifting weights. Cycling and other aerobic activities scored high still.

The study classified “exercise” as a broad term, people could choose from 75 different types. It included classics like basketball and yoga but was broad enough to cover different actives like “ active gaming devices”, “ Hunting large game”, and “ snow shovelling by hand”.

The take away? People who exercised had 40% better mental health than those who didn’t.

The other take away? It doesn’t really matter which activity people did, exercising alone was enough.

The biggest mood boosters

  • Team sports
  • Cycling
  • Aerobics and running

House chores were even on the list, they were near the bottom with about a 10% reduction in the “mental health burden” list. Which they measured by the number of bad mental health days a given person had experienced in the past month.

Too much of a good thing? Less is more?

Just exercise and exercise more… that’ll help?!

Not quite.

It turns out that more isn’t better.

It seems that there is a sweet spot when it comes to the amount of exercise

It’s around 30-60 minutes 3-5x a week

After that, the benefits start to wobble and turn.

If you do more exercise, don’t worry.

It doesn’t actually say that more than 5x a week is detrimental to your mental health, just that 3-5x a week is the sweet spot rather than 6-7.

It’s getting clear that exercising 7 days a week is being linked to poor mental health though. This may be because people use exercise as a coping strategy with mental health challenges. They may have more of the “bad days” than average but are better off than they would be if they didn’t exercise.

If you’re struggling to start a daily exercise program, try “movement snacks”. Movement snacks are just movements throughout the day instead of extended workouts. It’s 5-10 minutes of doing something – maybe you do 10 push-ups, walk to the top of your building at work, or do 25 squats. You don’t need to buy a gym membership, you can go for a walk or clean the house… your brain will help you!

Just try moving!


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Table of Contents

Articles that you'll enjoy
Related Posts
The Best Mental Health Quotes In 2022 |

We’ve compiled the best mental health quotes for 2022.  We constantly think of mental disorders as problems but what if they’re an opportunity that needs to be harnessed?  I just finished reading something about mental disorders and people with anxiety of high levels of empathy and may be able to understand peoples pain easier. People

Read More »
what is depression
Mental Health
What is Depression

The World Health Organization estimates that there are approximately 322 million people are currently living with depression – that’s more than 4 percent of the global population.  “I think the safest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone

Read More »
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Mental Health
Signs and Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person.  Here are the most common symptoms to look out for when addressing this major depressive disorder. “It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that

Read More »
different types of depression
Mental Health
The 7 Types of Depression

Commonly there are multiple “types of depression” and depends where you look.  It’s normal to feel down once in a while, but if you’re sad most of the time and it affects your daily life, you may have clinical depression. A condition that is treated with talk therapy, medication, supplements, exercise, psychedelics, and changes to

Read More »
Treatments for depression
Mental Health
How To Treat Depression

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for depression, but it can take some trial and error to find one — or a combo — that works effectively for you. There isn’t one cause of depression but it’s not a character flaw, a weak mind, or because you deserve it.  Depression is a blend

Read More »
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Scroll to Top