In fact, a new study has determined the exact frequency and duration of workouts per week to gain the greatest benefits to mental health. Research published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal analysed data from over one million people, comparing the number of days of bad self-reported mental health between individuals who exercised and those who did not.
After accounting for factors like gender, income, age and race, the analysed the effect of exercise type, duration, frequency and intensity the subjects undertook.
They found that individuals who exercised had 1.49 (43.2%) fewer days of poor mental health those who didn’t exercise, and the optimum amount to exercise is 45 minutes three to five times a week.
While also exercise types were effective, bigger benefits were seen for popular team sports (22·3% lower mental health burden), cycling (21·6% lower), and aerobic and gym activities (20·1% lower).
However, they also found that more exercise was not always better. Working out for more than three hours a day was linked to worse mental health than not exercising at all. The authors suggest that people doing excessive amounts of exercise might also be prone to obsessive characteristic, putting them at greater risk of poor mental health.