There is no perfect “fix” or cure that works for everyone, particularly when it comes to life satisfaction and happiness.
We all have different backgrounds, live in different settings and environments, and have different personalities and challenges.
But, it appears there might be evidence to affirm the belief that staying active can make us happier and potentially improve our mental health.
Researchers from the University of South Australia have collated the data from a vast array of different studies carried out into the effectiveness of exercise on mental wellbeing.
More than 128,000 people had been involved in the different research projects, so that’s a very impressive number of participants.
They found that exercise should be a mainstay approach for managing depression, because physical activity is 1.5 times more effective than counseling or the leading medications.
Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, physical activity was found to be extremely beneficial for improving symptoms of depression, anxiety, and distress.
The largest benefits were seen among people with depression, pregnant and postpartum women, healthy individuals, and people diagnosed with HIV or kidney disease.
“Physical activity is known to help improve mental health. Yet despite the evidence, it has not been widely adopted as a first-choice treatment,” – Lead UniSA researcher, Dr. Ben Singh.
“Our review shows that physical activity interventions can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in all clinical populations, with some groups showing even greater signs of improvement.
“Higher intensity exercise had greater improvements for depression and anxiety, while longer durations had smaller effects when compared to short and mid-duration bursts.
“We also found that all types of physical activity and exercise were beneficial, including aerobic exercise such as walking, resistance training, Pilates, and yoga.
“Importantly, the research shows that it doesn’t take much for exercise to make a positive change to your mental health.”
So, those are naturally very interesting findings, though I would caution that if you are suffering from depression you are encouraged to seek professional assistance.