Unfit people are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, study finds

Your depression and anxiety could be because you are unfit. That’s according to a study done at University College London.

The study was conducted over a seven-year period and found that people with low aerobic and muscular fitness are almost twice as likely to be depressed and have a 60 per cent increased risk of anxiety.

The research involved 152,978 participants aged 40 to 69. Aerobic fitness at the start of the study period was tested using a stationary bike with increasing resistance, while muscular fitness was measured with a grip strength test.

Participants also completed a questionnaire gauging depression and anxiety symptoms. 

After seven years, participants were tested once again for depression and anxiety symptoms.

Researchers found high aerobic and muscular fitness at the start of the study was associated with better mental health seven years later. 

People with the lowest combined aerobic and muscular fitness had a 81 per cent higher odds of having either anxiety or depression, compared to those with high levels of overall fitness. 

The researchers accounted for potentially confounding factors such as diet, socioeconomic status, chronic illness, and mental illness symptoms.  

“Here we have provided further evidence of a relationship between physical and mental health, and that structured exercise aimed at improving different types of fitness is not only good for your physical health, but may also have mental health benefits,” study author Aaron Kandola said.