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Too Much Exercise May Not Be a Good Idea for Better Mental Health: Study

Update Date: Oct 27, 2012 05:50 AM EDT

Exercising on a regular basis has various benefits to our body and mind, and research has proved it time and again. Recent researches have suggested that from reducing the desire for materialistic things in life to increasing life satisfaction, exercising has a great impact on the mental health of the people.

However, a new study suggests that while exercising on a regular basis and to a certain degree boosts mental health, spending too much time working out can have negative impacts on the mental health.

Experts warn that while those who exercise between 2.5 to 7.5 hours a week have a positive effect of exercise on their mental health, those working out for longer than that may find the opposite impact.  

For the study, the researchers investigated the impact of exercising on mental health by analyzing self-reported data from more than 7,600 adults who took part in a U.S. national survey.

"The largest mental health differences occurred with two to four hours of exercise per week. Beyond four hours, the trend begins to reverse: about 65 percent of those with poorer mental health exercised more than four hours per week, compared to 55 percent of adults in better mental health," wrote Dr. Yeon Soo Kim and colleagues at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The findings of the study revealed exercising for more than 7.5 hours per week, was associated with a sharp increase in the symptoms of depression and anxiety. This finding was found to be true for both-men and women and also for people belonging to different age groups and health levels.

 According to a Columbia news release, this is the first study ever to have associated too much exercise and poor mental health.

However, there need to be more studies conducted before determining if people who are often depressed and anxious stay more physically active deliberately in order to keep their mental symptoms under control or if it is due to more physical activity that actually causes symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The researchers emphasize that their findings do not deny and in fact support "the notion that regular activity may lead to prevention of mental health disorders."

"If physical activity can prevent mental health disorders or improve overall mental health, the public health impact of promoting physical activity could be enormous," they wrote in the study.

The study has only associated too much exercising and poor mental health, and does not establish a cause and effect relationship.

 The study appears in the journal Preventive Medicine.

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