Yet more evidence of the mental health benefits of exercise

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Benjamin Willis and his team in Texas have just published the results of a huge survey of ‘midlife fitness’. They collected retrospective data on a cohort of almost 18000 individuals – mostly (80%) men. After measuring fitness using a treadmill exercise test they found that high levels of midlife fitness were associated with a 16% reduced likelihood of developing depression. Perhaps a more significant finding was the relationship between depression and later cardiovascular morbidity. Those who have had an episode of depression are known to be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) afterwards. Dr Willis’ team found a 56% reduction in deaths due to CVD after an episode of depression in those who had a high level of physical fitness. Yet more evidence of how important it is to look after both our physical and mental health.

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