Exercise linked to better mental health, research shows
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Since it is known that physical activity and time spent in nature are associated with improved mental health, researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California sought to determine how exercise and time outdoors was associated with people's mental health during the height of the pandemic.

In April 2020, researchers sent a series of COVID-19 surveys to more than 250,000 participants in the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank—a collection of lifestyle surveys, electronic health record data, and biospecimens, which Kaiser Permanente members volunteered. People who reported COVID-19 symptoms were not included in this analysis, resulting in 20,012 respondents. They each completed at least 4 surveys between April and July 2020.

White women older than 50 accounted for a high proportion of the respondents. Most respondents said they were retired and generally adhered to the "safer-at-home" orders during the period of the survey. The study found that:

- Reports of anxiety and depression decreased over time
- Anxiety and depression scores were higher for females and younger people, and lower for Asian and Black people compared with white respondents
- Participants who reported no physical activity reported the highest depression and anxiety compared to people who had exercised
- Spending less time outdoors was associated with higher depression and anxiety scores
- People who had increased their time outdoors the most reported the highest anxiety scores, but the research could not explain the finding.

"What we learned from these findings is that during future emergencies it will be important to carefully weigh the decisions to close parks and outdoor areas against the negative impact those closures may have on people's mental health," said researchers.

Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-11-linked-mental-health.html
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