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Self-reported physical activity and aerobic fitness are differently related to mental health

Journal article
Authors Magnus Lindwall
Thomas Ljung
Emina Hadzibajramovic
Ingibjörg H Jonsdottir
Published in Mental Health and Physical Activity
Volume 5
Issue 1
Pages 28-34
ISSN 1755-2966
Publication year 2012
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Department of Psychology
Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Pages 28-34
Language en
Links https://gup.ub.gu.se/file/115997
Subject categories Sport and Fitness Sciences, Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Abstract

Background: A relevant, but overlooked question is if self-reported physical activity and aerobic fitness are differently related to mental health. Purpose: To examine the relation between mental health and level of self-reported physical activity (SRPA) and aerobic fitness (AF), and whether AF mediates the relation between SRPA and mental health. Methods: Participating in the study were 177 voluntary subjects (49% men, 51% women) with a mean age of 39 years. Symptoms of depression and anxiety were measured through the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale, and the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) was used to evaluate self-reported symptoms of burnout. Leisure time SRPA during the last three months were measured using a single item. AF was measured by using the Åstrand bicycle test. Results: Self-reported physical activity, but not AF, was significantly related to self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, and burnout. Light to moderate physical activity that is performed regularly seems to be associated with more favorable mental health pattern compared with physical inactivity. No support was found for the mediating effect of AF of the physical activityemental health relationship. Conclusions: Self-reported behavior of regular physical activity seems to be more important to monitor than measures of AF when considering the potential preventive effects of physical activity on mental health.

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