Exercise May Help Halt the Development of Mental Disorders

Adults who say they have high or moderate levels of physical activity have better overall mental health than those who move less than the skeleton. This is the result of a study carried out by researchers from the Faculty of Physical Activity Sciences (INEF) and Sports of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), in collaboration with the European University (UEM).

In addition to this conclusion, experts have also found that the level of exercise performed in leisure time is inversely related to vulnerability to mental disorders. That is, the more sport is done, the less likely we are to develop a mental disorder.

Both findings could be taken into account in the development of policies and strategies aimed at improving the health of the population with a more efficient use of health resources.

Impairment of mental health

The deterioration of mental health is perceived with growing concern, especially in societies with higher rates of economic development. Basically because they consume a great amount of health resources and can be one of the main reasons of medicalization of daily life.

Strategies to reduce the incidence of these diseases are, therefore, increasingly necessary. Especially in terms of its proactive prevention and coping, which in the end is what can save more money to health systems in the long run. In this context, the team of researchers has conducted a study that reveals the relationship between physical activity and mental health in a population sample of the Community of Madrid between 15 and 74 years of age.

The objective of the study was to evaluate the possible relationship between physical activity and mental health levels by analyzing whether this relationship has changed in terms of physical activity (low, moderate, high) and the situation in which it was performed (work, Travel or leisure). Among the objectives was also to try to assess whether physical activity could be associated with greater or lesser vulnerability to mental disorders.

From the outset, the first results showed that 15% of participants had some type of mental disorder, and that 19.8% were not active enough according to current recommendations.

And in general, the results showed better levels of mental health related to a higher level of sports in the free time and in all areas of daily life (here we add the activity related to three aspects: work, travel and leisure).

Taking into account only leisure time physical activity, the risk of suffering mental health pathologies among the “sufficiently active” population was reduced to 56% compared to the “insufficiently active” population.

Although this association between physical activity and mental health has already been verified in previous studies, there are still gaps in knowledge related to the mechanisms that regulate it. This makes further research necessary on the subject.