Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your mental health. Countless studies have proved this beyond any reasonable doubt. Case closed.
However, a recent study revealed that, for some people, there can be too much of a good thing. Researchers from Yale University looked at data sourced from 1.2 million people in the U.S. to try to find out how much and which types of exercise are best for mental health. In the process, they found something a bit surprising.
The study, published in The Lancet, concludes that physical exercise was “significantly and meaningfully” associated with improved mental health, but that, “More exercise was not always better.”
Those who exercised for 30 to 60 minutes three to five times per week saw the most benefit, the researchers found. People who were physically active for more than 90 minutes every day also saw their mental health improve, though less so. But subjects who exercised for more than 90 minutes a day or more than 23 times a month actually had worse mental health than those who did not exercise at all.
This finding was “a little bit surprising,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Adam Chekroud, an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale. Previous studies have typically compared how different intensities of exercise affect mental health, but none have looked closely at different volumes of exercise, he says.