Association between Exercise Intensity and Mental Health: A Prospective Cohort Study Based on UK Biobank
Refereed conference paper presented and published in conference proceedings

Full Text

Other information

Physical activity (PA) interventions have been demonstrated to promote mental health (MH) in numerous studies. However, previous findings on whether exercise with light, moderate, and high intensity have different effectiveness on mental disorders were inconsistent. And the dose-response relationship between each intensity level and MH is yet to be investigated.


In this 7-year prospective cohort study among 402,349 UK Biobank participants, the International Physical Activity Questionnaires (IPAQ) and accelerometers were adopted to obtain PA-related information on recruitment in 2006-2010 and at follow-up in 2013-2015, respectively. Difference between moderate and high IPAQ activity groups, difference between having met recommendation for walking and for moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), metabolic equivalents (METs) for light, moderate, and vigorous activity were predictors. MH outcomes were measured by the Recent Depressive Symptoms (RDS-4) questionnaire at both baseline and follow-up (2014-2019). Multivariate linear regression was conducted for both cross-sectional and longitudinal association between exercise intensity and MH, adjusted for covariates including age, gender, education, employment status, smoking, alcohol use, BMI, and chronic diseases.


For cross-sectional association, after adjusting for covariates, people in high IPAQ activity group had lower RDS-4 score, comparing to those in moderate group (P<0.001). Population who have met MVPA recommendation had lower RDS-4 than those have only met walking recommendation (P<0.001). Higher METs for light, moderate, and vigorous activity were significantly associated with lower RDS-4 (P<0.001). Additionally, higher METs for walking significantly predicted lower RDS-4 at follow-up, controlling for baseline RDS-4 and other covariates. No significant difference of effectiveness on RDS-4 at follow-up was found between different intensity level.


Study findings indicated vigorous exercise was more effective than moderate exercise only in cross-sectional relationship. Higher intensity of walking was likely to improve MH in long-term. Further exploration on the optimal range for moderate and vigous activity is needed.
All Author(s) ListXin Wen, Eric Kam-Pui Lee, Dexing Zhang, Samuel Yeung Shan Wong
Name of ConferenceHong Kong Primary Care Conference 2023
Start Date of Conference23/06/2023
End Date of Conference25/06/2023
Place of ConferenceThe Hong Kong College of Family Physicians, 99 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Country/Region of ConferenceHong Kong
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
KeywordsExercise intensity, Metabolic equivalents, Mental health

Last updated on 2024-29-01 at 16:36