Sure, many people have joked around about this, and probably even more spouses have suggested their respective significant other is unbearable without their daily dose of exercise, but does scientific data support this?
A study published in the July 2011 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, a prestigious academic journal devoted to science topics related to exercise, suggests this to be true (Bertheussen, Romundstad et al. 2011). For many professionals in the health and fitness field, achieving an optimal balance between physical, mental, emotional and social considerations should be your ultimate goal. A large group of 4,500 people, approximately 56% women between the ages of 19 and 91 years with an average age of 53 years were involved in the study. Regardless of age or gender, completing more sessions of exercise per week resulted in a higher reported quality of life with the largest difference being seen between people who reported no weekly exercise and those people who reported one to three exercise sessions per week.
In addition, progressively increasing the duration and intensity of your exercise sessions further improved self-reported physical health. Interestingly, similar results were found with mental health scores. Again, no differences were noted between genders and in all participants, any form of exercise participation reported positive improvements in self-reported mental health scores. Progressively greater scores were reported in both genders as the number of weekly exercise sessions increased, the duration of those sessions increased as well as the intensity with which they were completed.
In summary, these results from a large dataset of men and women provide additional support that regular exercise can not only impact you physically but mentally as well. Another key consideration is that going from no exercise to even just a small dose of easy exercise just a few times per week resulted in the greatest improvements overall supporting that something is better than nothing.
- Bertheussen, G. F., P. R. Romundstad, et al. (2011). “Associations between Physical Activity and Physical and Mental Health- A HUNT 3 Study.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 43(7): 1220-1228.