Aerobic and Resistance Fitness Helps Reduce Anxiety and Depression

Aerobic and resistance fitness can be effective in alleviating common mental health disorders, according to recent research.

Woman running

Several forms of physical fitness could be modifiable risk factors for common mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety. Research published in the Journal BMC Medicine examined how individual and combined markers of cardiorespiratory fitness and grip strength were associated with the incidence of common mental disorders. 

The seven-year, prospective cohort study included 152,978 UK Biobank participants. Researchers used an exercise test and dynamometer to measure cardiorespiratory and grip strength, respectively. They also used Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 scales to estimate the incidence of mental health at the follow-up. 

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The study concluded that low and medium cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with higher odds of depression and anxiety, compared to high cardiorespiratory fitness. Low and medium grip strength was also associated with higher odds of common mental disorders when compared to high grip strength. Individuals who fell in the lowest group for both of these physical fitness tests had 1.981 higher odds of depression and 1.599 higher odds of anxiety, as well as 1.814 higher odds of either disorder.

The researchers report that, based on these results, public health strategies to reduce common mental health disorders could benefit from including combinations of aerobic and resistance activities. 

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