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Staying active reduces prevalence of psychological distress

Exercising and staying physically active has long been known to improve mood and mental health, but a recent study out of Australia suggests that the relationship might work both ways. Older adults who suffer from psychological distress such as depression and and anxiety are also more likely to have a functional limitation later in life.

The research was based on analysis of more than 100,000 responses of adults over 65 in Australia's 45 and Up Study. The survey asked respondents to self-report their habits on everything from smoking to exercise to psychological well being. In the end, scientists found people who had some level of psychological distress were nearly seven times more likely to have a physical limitation than those who did not. Scientists also found that older adults who are more active are less likely to suffer from a physical limitation.

"Our findings can influence the emphasis that we place on older adults to remain active," the study's leader Gregory Kolt said. "With greater levels of physical activity, more positive health gains can be achieved, and with greater physical function [through physical activity], greater independence can be achieved."

It's not surprising that physical activity and mental health are linked. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of exercise's greatest benefits is that it increases the production of endorphins, neurotransmitters that help relieve stress and tend to make people happier. Additionally, fast-paced games like pickle ball or tennis are good for clearing your mind and helping you relax a bit.

Homeowners at Sun City Festival will not find any trouble staying active and reaping all of the benefits. The Arizona retirement community includes numerous opportunities to exercise, whether it be in the state-of-the-art fitness center or in yoga classes.

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