I was recently interviewed about running and mental health by pt Health, a “Community Clinic Network with 230 corporate and network clinic locations across Canada.” They offer many services including physical and massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and mental health services along with occupational therapy and alternative medicine. The company also has specialized programs for more complex conditions including rehabilitation for stroke and cardiac patients as well as sports injuries.
Both subjects are important to me. Running has been life-changing and a huge part of my transformation. And if you’ve read any of my other articles or my about page, you know I have experienced depression and anxiety. I used to be ashamed of those things but finally decided there was nothing to be ashamed about. It’s a part of my history but it doesn’t define me. And the more can talk about mental health (especially for men), the more we can lessen the stigma.
Running has given me a new life. That’s why I created Runner’s Life here on Medium and also why I created my own site. I wanted to share the impact it has had on me and my physical, emotional, and mental health. And I’m hoping it can help at least one other person who has struggled.
A lot of research already shows that exercise is beneficial regarding many aspects of one’s physical and mental health. But new research is also showing cardiorespiratory fitness (running, biking, swimming, etc.) may reduce the risk of the onset of common mental health disorders, something that has not been looked at in-depth.
According to a recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the authors’ findings included evidence of a dose-response relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and common mental health issues, mainly depression and anxiety. They found that low CRF is associated with a 47% greater risk of common mental health disorders than high CRF, while medium CRF carries a 23% greater risk.
The authors’ suggest some preventative strategies to use CRF as a tool to decrease the risk factors of mental health disorders:
“There are also several low-cost methods of improving CRF through social prescribing frameworks, such as organised park runs. These properties make CRF a useful public health tool for reducing the incidence of common mental health disorders at a population-level.”
While they also admit the data is limited, the analysis shows some promise for those who have tried other methods for their mental health and failed. And maybe more important, they suggest more research needs to be done in this area.