As the world continues to slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-term impacts of the last 18 months on physical and mental health are yet to be determined. Some mental health experts fear a “tsunami” of mental health issues to emerge in the near future. Investment in strategies to improve and address mental health has never been more prescient.
There has long been data to suggest physical activity and exercise benefit mental health. In June 2021, the John W. Brick Foundation released their Move Your Mental Health Report, which provides a scoping review of over 1,000 studies conducted over the last thirty years. The research cast a wide net, including studies on any variety of physical activity, exercise, or movement type and any mental health outcome published between 1990 and 2020.
The findings were overwhelmingly positive. Out of 1,158 studies examined, 89% found a statistically significant, positive association between physical activity or exercise and mental health. The top three exercise types linked to mental health benefits where:
general physical activity (a broad category representing any movement),
cardiovascular/aerobic physical activity, and