Lack of exercise seriously harms mental health, finds study

ASICS' Mind Race experiment reported an 18% drop in "state of mind" score

running happy

by Trail Running |

Not exercising for a week haas been found to have the same impact as insomnia on mental health for active people, in a recent study commissioned by ASICS.

The Mind Race experiment, whose participants included British 400m record-holder Iwan Thomas and TV presenter Katie Piper, also found it took just 15 minutes to raise spirits after a period of inactivity.

In the study, among regular exercisers who agreed to pause their routines for a week, confidence dropped by 20%, positivity fell by 16%, energy levels slumped by 23% and ability to cope with stress reduced by 22%.

After just seven days of no exercise, participants’ overall state of mind score dropped by an average of 18% - decreasing from a high 68 out of 100 when physically active to 55 out of 100 when they stopped exercising.

Leading the study, Professor Brendon Stubbs said: “We know that exercise is good for our mental health but the impact of rest and restarting exercise is less clear. Now, thanks to new technology and the contribution of thousands of people, we’ve been able to pinpoint just how much exercise is needed to trigger a positive mental impact. This ASICS study helps to quantify the amount of exercise to improve mental health and make it more tangible. Taking time to rest is very important. This study shows that people’s wellbeing bounces back very quickly after a period of rest when people resume regular exercise again.”

TV presenter and former athlete Thomas said: "I’m a huge advocate for mental health awareness and my own battles are well documented. Throughout my life, running has been a vital tool in keeping me healthy in mind as well as body. As a new father I’ve found using exercise as an outlet for relieving stress more important than ever. I wanted to partner with ASICS for this study to see how I would manage without exercise and it was a lot more challenging than I expected! I felt anxious, tired and much less positive than usual. Fundamentally though, to be part of something that carries such an important message and hopefully encourages other people to share my passion for running, has been hugely fulfilling.”

Click here to take part in the study.

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