New Report

Exercise Plays Key Role in Mental Health & Well-being


After all we have been through the past year and half, many of us have had a toll taken on our mental health. ABAC has been here to help members get though these tough times as best as possible. The John W. Brick Foundation recently released their Move for Mental Health Report, a scoping review of studies conducted over the last thirty years. The findings were overwhelmingly positive. Out of 1,158 studies examined, 89% found a statistically significant, positive association between physical activity or exercise and mental health. The top three exercise types linked to mental health benefits where:

  • general physical activity (a broad category representing any movement),
  • cardiovascular/aerobic physical activity, and
  • yoga.

The evidence thus far suggests an effective exercise regimen for depression and anxiety includes both aerobic and resistance training across four to five 30-45 minute sessions each week. People with anxiety also benefit from adding more mindful forms of exercise like yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong one or two times per week.

According to the report, the benefits of exercise and physical activity for mental health are most apparent when:

  • intensity is moderate to vigorous,
  • it occurs several times per week,
  • engaging in a combination of aerobic and resistance training, and
  • it includes mindfulness-based activities like yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong.

It's important to remember that more is not always best. The evidence suggests a U-shaped curve, with peak benefits at a regimen of moderate-vigorous exercise three to five times weekly. In alignment with global and U.S. physical activity guidelines recommendations, combining cardiovascular training with resistance or muscular strengthening exercise was more beneficial than either one alone.

Many ABAC members already know from personal experience how much physical activity helps their mental state – how often do we all get a slow start to a workout, but then pretty much always feel better afterwards? The statistical findings in the study just boost our knowledge even more!