By Ken Reed

Mental health concerns have garnered a growing amount of media attention the last couple years.

Similarly, exercise, as a treatment for mental health woes like anxiety and depression, has also received increased attention.

Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, might be the single best thing you can do for your mental health, not to mention your physical health.

A study that examined the public health data of 1 million Americans found that people who exercised regularly had 43% fewer days of poor mental health in a given month than individuals who did not exercise.

“[Exercise] feels good, it improves self-image, and it produces numerous effects in body and brain that could be antidepressant,” says Dr. John Krystal, MD, one of that study’s authors and a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Yale University.

The good news for sports enthusiasts is that getting exercise via team sports like soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball, etc., had the most positive impact on mental health.

“Reinforcing social bonds, getting people to focus on objectives that are beyond themselves, and providing opportunities to win” are aspects of team sports that may provide mental health advantages over and above those of mere physical activity, according to Krystal.

As we’ve written in the past at League of Fans, there is strong evidence that regular exercise is a great medicine for mental health. Moreover, studies show it also has tremendous physical health benefits and it increases academic performance for students.

“The bottom line, is that exercise triggers parallel biological, psychological, and social processes that feed on each other and help people to better manage stress and recover from depression,” says Krystal.

“In a world where people seem to agree on few things, almost everyone agrees that engaging in regular exercise is good for you.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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