People with low aerobic and muscular fitness are nearly twice as likely to experience depression, according to a study led by University College London (UCL) researchers.
Low fitness levels also predicted a 60 per cent greater chance of anxiety, over a seven-year follow-up, according to the findings published in BMC Medicine.
The study involved 152,978 participants aged 40 to 69 of the UK Biobank study.
Their baseline aerobic fitness at the start of the study period was tested by using a stationary bike with increasing resistance, while their muscular fitness was measured with a grip strength test.
They also completed a questionnaire gauging depression and anxiety symptoms. Seven years later they were tested again for depression and anxiety symptoms, and the researchers found that high aerobic and muscular fitness at the start of the study was associated with better mental health seven years later.
People with the lowest combined aerobic and muscular fitness had 98 per cent higher odds of depression, 60 per cent higher odds of anxiety, and 81% higher odds of having either one of the common mental health disorders, compared to those with high levels of overall fitness.