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Roeh, A.; Lembeck, M.; Papazova, I; Pross, B.; Hansbauer, M.; Schoenfeld, J.; Haller, B.; Halle, M.; Falkai, P.; Scherr, J.; Hasan, A. (2020): Marathon running improves mood and negative affect. In: Journal of Psychiatric Research, Vol. 130: pp. 254-259
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Abstract

Background: Physical activity has beneficial effects on depression, as well as on other mental and somatic diseases. The amount of recommended exercise is still under discussion. We investigated whether marathon runners (MA) exhibit less or more depressive symptoms and negative affects compared to sedentary controls (SC) and how their mood changes in the context of marathon training and marathon running. Methods: We included 100 amateur marathon runners and 46 age- and gender matched sedentary controls in the ReCaP (Running effects on Cognition and Plasticity) study. Questionnaires contained Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD), Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ), Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Positive And Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF). SC were evaluated one time at baseline, MA six times during the six months study period. Results: Compared to SC, marathon runners (281.80 +/- 131.44 running min/week) exhibited less depressive symptoms, more positive affects (PANAS-PA) and a higher level of functioning (GAF). Within the marathon group, negative affect (PANAS-NA) decreased and general mood states (VAS) further improved throughout the study period with a maximum 24 h after the marathon. Discussion: MA had less depressive symptoms and a higher level of functioning compared to SC. Higher amounts than the recommended duration of 150 min/week aerobic training (WHO/ACSM) and the participation in a marathon seem to even further improve negative affect. These findings give new insight into the relationship between exercise and mood parameters. They can be implemented in future preventive strategies for depressive symptoms.