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Exercise has long been scientifically-endorsed as a mental heath hero. Take, for example, one recent finding that indicated just 90 sweaty minutes per week to be effective for significantly preventing participant depression. And now, researchers have drilled down on the types of heart-pumping activities that are the MVPs of keeping you in tip-top mental shape.
A cross-sectional study recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry synthesized data from 1.2 million people in the United States between 2011 to 2015 and concluded that five types of workouts reign supreme for your mental health. Results showed all methods of movement to be staggeringly effective; even doing household chores diminished the number of participants’ poor mental health days by 11.8 percent (vacuuming FTW!). But, across the top five exercise buckets, team sports reduced bad mental health days the most, by 22.3 percent, then cycling by 21.6 percent, aerobic or gym exercise by 20.1 percent, running or jogging by 19 percent, and recreational sports (like basketball or softball) by 18.9 percent.
Team sports were shown to reduce bad mental health days by 22.3 percent, cycling by 21.6 percent, aerobic or gym exercise by 20.1 percent, running or jogging by 19 percent, and recreational sports (like basketball or softball) by 18.9 percent.
To get the results, respondents were asked to how many days in the previous month their mental health was “not good” due to feelings of depression, stress, or emotional problems. After they took up a variety of physical activities over the next month, they answered the same questions again.
Still, it’s important to remember, as Inc. notes, that the exercise–mental health relationship is correlated, not causal. Meaning that, just because the study found a connection between the two, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one caused the other. Still, improving a state of mind is hardly a linear path. It often involves zeroing in on various areas of our lives, from supplement regimens and sleep habits to career goals. And yes—forming a #sweatsisterhood for pickup kickball games can totally be part of your personalized mental well-being formula.
If you’re now inspired to join a run club, here’s the factor that matters most when you’re choosing a pair of shoes and the proper way to lace them up.