Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation:
Yesterday, the Department of Exercise and Sports Science at Manchester Metropolitan University presented the findings of a research about strenuous exercise and depression at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Glasgow.
The research suggests that strenuous exercise may be unpleasant at the time but once you have recovered it leads to greater improvements in mood compared to less strenuous exercise.
Currently, we recommend that people should try to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. Moderate exercise means being energetic enough to breathe a little heavier than normal and to feel warmer.
It is not surprising that this research has shown that those who partake in more strenuous exercise experience greater improvements to their mood than those who exercise more moderately or not at all – some experts would suggest that this is due to an increased level of endorphin production.
However, intense exercise is not a realistic goal for everybody as each person has a different level of physical health. For those who cannot build up to such a vigorous pace, it is far more beneficial for your mood to exercise at a moderate intensity than to not exercise at all. Seek advice from your GP if you are concerned about the type and intensity of the exercise that you should be doing.