With one in five people in the UK now taking tablets for depression and anxiety, LJMU is helping spread the message about the health benefits of exercise.
BBC’s Morning Live reported today (April 21) a new initiative by GP surgeries linking patients with depression to local ‘Park Runs’ - with supporting evidence from LJMU.
Lecturer in Physiology Dr Chrysanthi Fergani worked with presenter OJ Borg to show the impact of exercise on our mental state by way of measuring cortisol levels before and after a run or cycle.
Chrysanthi ran laboratory tests on OJ’s ‘levels’ to show that cortisol – a hormone associated with stress – dropped by 83% after a park run.
Interviewed on screen, she said: “The results show a dramatic decrease in cortisol concentrations two hours after the run, and while it is normal for cortisol to decrease throughout the day, it is still a significant decrease.
“Lower concentrations are indicative of lower anxiety and a better mental state.”
The evidence is significant because clinicians are increasingly recommending ‘active alternatives’ to pills. 1,500 GP surgeries have signed up to the Park Run initiative, led by Southport GP Simon Tobin.