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Approved research

Investigating the relationship between physical activity, fitness, diet, and mental health

Principal Investigator: Mr Aaron Kandola
Approved Research ID: 51093
Approval date: November 28th 2019

Lay summary

Physical activity and diet are two aspects of lifestyle that are increasingly being shown to influence mental health. Several clinical trials have found exercise, a form of physical activity, can reduce the symptoms of common mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Population-based studies have also found physical inactivity, and certain dietary patterns can increase the risk of depression and anxiety disorders. Physical and diet have a longstanding role in physical health. Research is now emerging to suggest they could also have a useful role in the prevention, and treatment of common mental health disorders. Through this project we will build on this evidence base, and address several gaps in the literature, such as the role of physical fitness in mental health. We aim to investigate: - The relationship between physical activity and common mental health disorders - The relationship between physical fitness and common mental health disorders - What social, and biological factors influence the relationship between physical and mental health, such as differences in brain structure or the presence of inflammation - The relationship between certain dietary patterns and common mental health disorders Over the three years that this project will run, we expect the findings to be influential across mental health research, policy and practice. Physical activity and diet could represent two cost-effective, novel ways of reducing the prevalence of common mental health disorders. Furthering research into the relationship between lifestyle and mental health will also have useful implications for understanding the aetiology of common mental health disorders.