Background: Although the beneficial effects of physical activity and exercise on mental health are well known, the optimal conditions for them for benefitting mental health are still unclear. Engaging in exercise with others might have more desirable effects on mental health than engaging in exercise alone. This study examined the associations between exercising alone, exercising with others, and mental health among middle-aged and older adults. Methods: Baseline and 1-year follow-up surveys were conducted with 129 individuals. Time spent exercising alone or with others was measured using a 7-day diary survey. Total physical activity was objectively measured using an accelerometer. Mental well-being was assessed using the simplified Japanese version of the World Health Organization Five Well-Being Index, and mental distress was assessed using the Japanese version of the Kessler Distress Scale (K6). Results: Cross-lagged and simultaneous effects models revealed that exercising with others positively influenced mental well-being. Exercising alone and total physical activity did not significantly influence mental well-being. Neither total physical activity, exercising alone, nor exercising with others was significantly associated with mental distress. Conclusion: Engaging in exercise with others could be effective in improving mental well-being relative to engaging in exercise alone.
Kazuhiro Harada, Kouhei Masumoto and Narihiko Kondo
Kazuhiro Harada, Kouhei Masumoto, Ai Fukuzawa, Michiko Touyama, Koji Sato, Narihiko Kondo and Shuichi Okada
This study examined whether satisfaction with social interactions and the number of people interacted with during walking groups is associated with affective responses among older adults. Twenty-six older adults were asked to participate in five walking group sessions. The participants walked together for 40–50 min. In every session, the participants reported their affective responses to walking (positive engagement, tranquility, and negative affect), their level of satisfaction with the social interactions experienced, and the number of people interacted with during the walk. The available data were from 107 person-sessions. Multilevel models revealed that, although a higher number of people interacted with was not significantly associated with improvements in any affective responses, higher satisfaction with the interactions was significantly associated with improvements in positive engagement at both the within- and between-person levels. This study found that higher satisfaction with the interactions was associated with desirable affective responses among older adults.