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Study suggests exercise linked to better mental health

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 19th November, 2021 12:10:59 PM
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According to a recent Kaiser Permanente research, the anxiety level of people exercised during the pandemic is less than that of the people who didn’t exercise.

It also depicted that spending more hours in the outdoors resulted in less depression and anxiety than staying inside. These findings got published in the journal named Preventive Medicine, ANI reported.

The survey-based study experienced participation of more than 20,000 people from 6 regions across the United States served by Kaiser Permanente. The regions include Colorado, Hawaii, Georgia, Southern, and Northern California, and the Mid-Atlantic States.

The lead author of the study, Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., the director of the Division of Behavioral Research for the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation said, “What these study findings tell us is that even during an active pandemic or other public health crisis, people should be encouraged to be physically active to help maintain their physical and mental health,” He further added, “Parks and other natural areas should remain open during public health emergencies to encourage outdoor physical activity.”

The world is experiencing the pandemic COVID-19  since March 2020. Public health officials tried to reduce the spread by initiating social distancing and policies like stay-at-home since there was no known treatment. Businesses changed their form by temporarily closing or changing practices, to reduce the spread resulting in loss of jobs, which also affected the economy. Due to these fewer opportunities to interact and socialize with friends and family, the level of depression and anxiety increased for many people. As it is known, mental health gets improved with physical activities and spending time in nature. During the height of the pandemic, researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California determined the association of exercise and outdoor times in improving the mental health of the people.

The researchers sent an array of COVID – 19 surveys to more than 250,000 participants in the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank in April 2020 – a collection of electronic health record data, lifestyle surveys, and biospecimens volunteered by Kaiser Permanente Members.

People reporting COVID-19 symptoms didn’t include in this survey that ended up with 20,012 respondents. At least 4 surveys were completed by them between April 2020 and July 2020.

White women aged more than 50 responded at a higher proportion. Most of them stated that they were retired. Besides, they adhered to the orders like “safer-at-home” during the survey period. The survey found that:

– Over time, the reports of depression and anxiety decreased.

– The scores of depression and anxiety were higher for the younger people as well as the females. Whereas, it is lower for Black and Asian people as compared to the White respondents.

– Participants reported the highest anxiety and depression who didn’t go through any physical activity as compared to the people who did exercise.

– Higher anxiety and depression score has been secured by spending less time outdoors.

– The research could not explain the finding why people who had increased their outdoors time, reported the maximum anxiety scores

Dr. Young said, “What we learned from these findings is that during future emergencies it will be important to carefully weigh the decisions to close parks and outdoor areas against the negative impact those closures may have on people’s mental health.”