Too Much Exercise May be Bad for Mental Health

Exercising too often could have a negative effect on mental health, a cross-sectional study published online in The Lancet Psychiatry journal suggests. 

The large study assessed 1.2 million people and found that over a one-month period, those who exercised had about 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health compared to people who didn’t exercise at all, regardless of the type of activity. Popular team sports, cycling, and aerobic/gym activities all showed the most positive results, and the best length of time to exercise was 45 minutes three to five times a week. 

Too much or too little activity diminished these benefits, though. For those who exercised more or less than 30 to 90 minutes a day, three to five times a week, mental health benefits decreased. 

More than an hour and a half of exercise each day still showed better benefits than those who did not work out at all, but exercising for more than three hours a day was worse than not exercising at all. 

“Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case. Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90 minute sessions is associated with worse mental health,” said Dr. Adam Chekroud, one of the study’s authors. 

“Our finding that team sports are associated with the lowest mental health burden may indicate that social activities promote resilience and reduce depression by reducing social withdrawal and isolation, giving social sports an edge over other kinds.” 

Source: The LancetThe Independent 

Kaitlyn D’Onofrio is a digital medical writer. She is interested in musculoskeletal health, the effect of exercise on health, and mental health awareness. When she’s not writing for DocWire, Kaitlyn is teaching yoga classes in her community, promoting wellness to her students.